With realignment taking place for this season, ELCA will only have four region opponents — Strong Rock, Landmark, Our Lady of Mercy and Mount Vernon Presbyterian — instead of six like in the past.
“The region realignment kind of messes us up because it gave us a schedule where we only have four region games,” ELCA coach Jonathan Gess said. “We had to schedule Whitewater and Woodward. You don’t necessarily want to play Whitewater and Woodward on the backs of playing GAC and Stockbridge.”
Even though the Chargers will host Greater Atlanta Christian and Stockbridge, both of those teams went to the playoffs last year and still have Division I talent on the roster. While Woodward and Whitewater also made the playoffs, the Chargers’ other two early opponents, Mount Paran Christian and Mount Pisgah Christian, did as well.
“Our schedule is a buzz saw before we get to our region but it’s just the hand we’re dealt,” Gess said.
Despite graduating 23 seniors, Gess plans to succeed with key returning players Nick Dawson, a 6-foot-2, 240-pound defensive end who already has multiple scholarship offers from Division I schools, safety Davis Reynolds and quarterback Jordan Long, and transfers Jordan Scott from Salem and Donald Hammond from Luella.
“We lost a great senior class,” Gess said. “That senior class had won 24 games in a row. It’s hard to replace those guys. That is why we talk about winning the day. You can’t replace them but kids are going to have to step up. We want to maintain that standard that those kids set.
“We think we got some kids who are definitely going to fill in the void and do well. JV hasn’t lost a game in four years. We feel like we got some guys who can step in from there--a lot like the class that just graduated. When they started that streak of winning 24 in a row most of those 23 kids had never played.”