By MICHAEL ALEXANDER, Staff Photographer | Published December 20, 2012
With a 6-4 regular season record, Our Lady of Mercy High School made its first trip to the Class A Private School football playoff since the arrival of third-year head coach Mike Earwood.
When Earwood came on board in 2010, he said, “In order to turn around the football program at Mercy, it’s going to require commitment out of the players, understanding from the parents and a very dedicated coaching staff.” So far, everybody appears to be buying into his program.
The Our Lady of Mercy Bobcats actually made the playoffs in 2004 with a 1-9 record because at that time the Georgia High School Association (GHSA) playoff system allowed four teams from each region to enter the state playoffs, and Mercy’s region only had four teams. “This year, however, was the first time we made it on our own merit and truly and traditionally earning a spot,” said Mercy athletic director Bill Schmitz.
Mercy’s 2012 team probably had the toughest first-round draw of any school in the newly formed GHSA power ranking system by taking on the number-one ranked Eagles Landing Christian Academy at its McDonough stadium.
Although Mercy lost 42-14, they made a valiant effort against the 9-1 Chargers. Early in the third quarter, the Bobcats closed the margin to 35-14 against a defense that had only given up nine points since week three of the football season. The Bobcats also generated 248 total yards against a team that had held most opponents to under 100 yards. Senior wide receiver Rashard Fant led all rushers with 159 yards on 14 carries and two touchdowns. Senior defensive tackle Matthew Frank led the defense with eight solo tackles.
Eagles Landing Christian Academy went on to play for the state class A private school championship, where they defeated Prince Avenue Christian of Bogart 33-0 at the Georgia Dome.
Eighteen seniors and a total of 11 starters, on the offense and defense side of the ball, will return for Mercy’s 2013 season.