ROSWELL, Ga. - Fellowship Christian picked a good week to win High 5 Sports Team of the Week honors. The 5-0 Paladins have a bye week before facing St. Francis in their third region game of the season. Fellowship out-voted several other schools, including the Archer Tigers, on our Facebook poll to take home the award.
"We're taking them one game at a time," Head Coach Al Morrell said. " We can't afford to overlook any opponent. They can't just show up and win without working hard."
And according to Morrell, hard work is what's made this team successful halfway through the regular season.
"We expect a lot from them. They spent the offseason in the weight room sweating and bleeding together," said Morrell.
A huge road win over rival Mt. Paran Christian last Friday night could be the key to another playoff run for the Paladins. Fellowship's defense set the tone in the second half, forcing key turnovers en route to a 21-13 win. Over the past few seasons, the winner of the Fellowship-Mt. Paran game has gone on to win Region 6-A (Div B) and advance as a top seed in the playoffs.
Morrell and the Paladins came close to winning a state championship in 2016, only to fall painfully short, 34-27 to eventual winner Eagles Landing Christian Academy in the championship game inside the Georgia Dome.
This year's Fellowship team uses the experience of 11 returning senior starters to help develop several talented sophomore playmakers like running back Murphy Reeves, who combined for 168 total yards against Mt. Paran, and Lawson Haigler, whose key interception turned the tide in what was a close second half battle with the Eagles.
Senior quarterback Brooks Bryant directs the offense, which relies mostly on the run. And, as is the case with most smaller schools, a lack of depth requires some players to do more than one thing well; senior Cameron Gill is a prime example, taking handoffs at running back, lining up at safety, returning kicks and serving as the team's long snapper.
Coach Morrell is extremely proud of his young group of Paladins, but he's also keeping an eye out for his old team in Cherokee County. Morrell started the football program from scratch at Creekview High School back in 2006 before leaving to take the Fellowship job in 2013. The undefeated Grizzlies were the High 5 Sports Team of the Week in week two, and this week they'll face undefeated rival Sequoyah in a huge region showdown.
"I'm really happy for that bunch," said Morrell. "I'm very excited for them. "The game with Sequoyah is always huge, but this will be especially big."
That game might be big, but not nearly as huge as the Thursday morning pep rally Good Day Atlanta's Paul Milliken has in store for the Paladin Nation. Paul and the GDA crew will begin coverage live in the eight o'clock hour of the show, before handing out the Team of the Week trophy around 9:20 a.m.