GAC’s Paul Carothers (36) brings down Stone Mountain quarterback Coreral Cook (2) during a game earlier this season. (Photo: Craig Cappy)
Nothing comes easy, but for the first five weeks it approached it for GAC.
The Spartans, on their way to a 5-0 record, rolled over every opponent by wide margins. They scored more than 40 points in every game and gave up, at worst 26. Their closest game was a 48-26 win over Stone Mountain in Week 1.
But head coach Tim Hardy said the lopsided wins were more than a product of a talented team.
“The one thing that I have been pleased about this year is how we’ve played, regardless of our opponent,” Hardy said. “We’ve executed well.”
It’s the last part Hardy finds most pleasing. Winning is the goal, but if the Spartans execute well it’s more than just overwhelming opponents, it’s beating them.
And here they are, six weeks into the season, entering region play in the five-team 6-AA. It starts with a perennial state playoff team in Westminster, which hasn’t played through it’s non-region games with such ease, with losses to Blessed Trinity, Woodward Academy and to Class AAA state runner-up St. Pius X.
“I hope that helps us going in, to have that experience of playing really good teams and playing at a fast pace,” Westminster coach Gerry Romberg said. “Out of all of the teams we’ve played, (GAC is) the best team, just watching them on film and how they execute and the number of playmakers that they have. It’s going to be a really good challenge, but a great opportunity as well.”
There’s that word again: Execution.
GAC does bring a cadre of offensive weapons. There are the receivers Parker Polhill, Darius Slayton and Chris Williams. Rafe Chapple is an experienced quarterback. But the biggest threat, and one with a connection to Westminster, is Micah Abernathy. Abernathy’s older brother, Ralph, played for Romberg at Westminster before moving on to Cincinnati.
“He’s looking forward to it,” Hardy said.
“(Micah) is a bigger, stronger version of Ralph,” Romberg said. “There is really no weakness. It’s really hard to find any weakness on this GAC team.”
Westminster lost its starting quarterback early in the season and turned to sophomore Rankin Woley.
“He’s done a really, really good job under the circumstance,” Romberg said. “He’s done everything we could have hoped for coming in.”
But no matter the age of the opposing quarterback or the record and stats piled up so far, Hardy said he’s interested to see his team play in bigger games and respond to the struggles that come in close contests.
“We haven’t been in a close game, we haven’t been in a game where we haven’t scored on the first possession,” Hardy said. “Your great teams are the ones that can battle back and overcome great competition.
“(We) get ready for the best team we’ve played. They are ready for a battle, for competition.”
GAC at Westminster
GAC Spartans (6-AA)
Coach: Tim Hardy
Record: 6-0, 0-0 region
Last week: Beat Thomson 56-12
Westminster Wildcats (6-AA)
Coach: Gerry Romberg
Record: 3-3, 0-0 region
Last week: Had a bye
Last meeting: GAC won 30-0 last year.
Directions to Westminster High School: From I-85 south merge on to I-75 north toward Marietta/Chattanooga. Take exit 255 for US-41/Northside Parkway toward W. Paces Ferry Rd. Turn left onto Northside Parkway. Turn left onto West Paces Ferry Rd. Campus will be on the left.
2012: GAC 30, Westminster 0
2011: GAC 49, Westminster 10
2010: Westminster 24, GAC 13
2009: Westminster 39, GAC 21
2008: Westminster 17, GAC 14
2005: GAC 16, Westminster 10
2004: Westminster 27, GAC 15
2003: GAC 12, Westminster 7
2002: GAC 13, Westminster 0