By MICHAEL ALEXANDER, Staff Photographer | Published November 16, 2006
Excitement and anticipation filled George B. Maloof Stadium when Atlanta’s St. Pius X High School and Marist School collided for their annual game, on a Nov. 10 night that saw temperatures in the low 60s at kickoff. The two teams came into the game with identical records at 8-1.
Through nine games St. Pius X had been scoring an average of nearly 33 points per game, while holding their opposition to an average of nearly nine points a game. On the other hand, Marist had been scoring an average of nearly 36 points per game, while holding their opposition to an average of 10 points a game.
A sign stretched across the bottom of the bleachers on the Marist end of the stadium read, “In the end the game comes down to one thing: man against man. May the best man win.” On this night, however, Marist proved to be the “better,” defeating St. Pius 31-14. With the crowd yelling in unison, “Let’s go Pius! Let’s go Marist!” Pius struck first on their opening drive when sophomore running back Jonathan Tinsley ran for an 80-yard touchdown. Marist went scoreless in the first quarter, but in a very methodical fashion they made first downs and moved the chains until they kicked a field goal with 10:52 left in the second quarter to close the lead. With 5:41 left in the second quarter, Marist missed a field goal wide right, and Pius held on to a four-point lead. But in the closing minutes of the first half a bad punt by Pius gave Marist field position on the Pius 35-yard line. They drove all the way down to the three-yard line, and from there junior running back Neil Schuster went in for a touchdown to give Marist a 10-7 lead at halftime. Marist would not relinquish the lead the rest of the game. They scored a touchdown pass with 3:26 left in the third quarter to go up 17-7, but Pius came back with their own touchdown on a 15-yard run by senior tailback Wil Asip, to pull within three. By the beginning of the fourth quarter, the Marist offensive line started to dominate the line of scrimmage, wearing down the Pius defense. Fullback Preston Lyons scored the first of Marist’s two fourth quarter touchdowns, and senior Garrison Weir sealed the victory with a touchdown reception from quarterback Gary Marshall with 3:25 left in the game.
It was the third straight victory for Marist. Pius last won in 2003. Both teams begin their playoff run Nov. 17 when St. Pius (8-2) travels to take on Region 7-AAAA, number two seed Dalton High School. Marist (9-1), who became the Region 6-AAAA champs with the win over Pius, will host Ridgeland High School, Rossville.
Holy Spirit Preparatory School, Atlanta, and Pinecrest Academy, Cumming, clashed in another rivalry game, a contest now in its third year. In another close game Pinecrest Academy won 15-13. Last year Pinecrest pulled out a 26-20 victory in triple overtime, and they now lead the series 3-0. The two teams went into halftime tied 7-7. Pinecrest Academy took the lead in the third quarter on a two-yard run by junior running back Luis Domenge. They also completed the two-point conversion to go up 15-7. Holy Spirit answered with a 35-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Zach Raus to wide receiver Robby Malinowski, who had five catches for 91 yards. Holy Spirit failed to convert their two-point conversion with 26 seconds left. They made one last effort to regain possession of the ball by trying an onside kick, but Pinecrest recovered the football to ensure the victory. Holy Spirit (5-4) gets their first taste of state playoff football when they go to Dublin to face Trinity Christian School Nov. 17.
Blessed Trinity High School, Roswell, was defeated by Grady High School, Atlanta, 28-12 in the final game of their season. Senior running back Noah Joseph had 24 carries for 123 yards and one touchdown. Senior fullback Matt Osborne also added a touchdown run in the loss. Blessed Trinity finished the season with a 5-5 record.
Our Lady of Mercy High School, Fairburn, was defeated by cross-town rival Landmark Christian School 55-7. Mercy ended the season 1-9, but the team showed potential for improvement over time under first-year head coach Bryan Pinabell.