A pair of rivalries highlight this week’s slate of Savannah area high school football games. Here’s a look at those rivalries as well as a few other games of note for this Friday, September 23.
SAVANNAH CHRISTIAN (4-0, 1-0) at CALVARY DAY (3-0, 1-0)
The best rivalry in the city of Savannah, Calvary Day and Savannah Christian will meet for the 44th time this week in a region 3-3A showdown. SCPS leads the all-time series, 26-17 but Calvary won 21-0 last season to snap the Raiders’ four-game winning streak in the series from 2018-2020.
It’s the earliest in the season that SCPS and CDS have met since playing August 31, 2007. Both teams are undefeated and Calvary enters as the No. 3 team in Class 3A, according to the Atlanta-Journal Constitution. Per the Georgia High School Football Historians Database, Savannah Christian has a record of 5-18 against teams ranked in the top-3 of the AJC poll.
SCPS has outscored its opponents 217-25 (+192) through its first four games while Calvary has a 125-54 (+71) advantage through three games.
Calvary’s junior quarterback Jake Merklinger has not had to throw much yet this season as he is 19-of-31 passing for 423 yards. Six of his 19 completions have gone for touchdowns and Edward “Doopah” Coleman has caught three TD’s while tight end Michael Smith has two. Running back AJ Butts has a team-high four touchdowns and 147 yards on 22 carries. And the junior also has a team-high 19 tackles on defense.
Savannah Christian has been explosive on offense thanks in large part to Harry “Zo” Smalls. The sophomore athlete left last week’s game against Country Day with an apparent leg injury, but he already has eight rushing scores and 465 yards on 43 carries.Fellow sophomore Kenry Wall has carried 19 times for 268 yards and four scores. Senior quarterback Paulus Zittrauer has seven passing touchdowns (three to David Bucey) and four rushing touchdowns.
SOUTH EFFINGHAM (2-1, 0-0) at EFFINGHAM COUNTY (2-2, 0-0)
What better way to start region 2-6A play than against your biggest rival?
South Effingham and Effingham will play for the 29th time since 1996. The Rebels lead the all-time series 16-12 and are winners of two straight and five of the last six against the Mustangs. Effingham won 34-0 last season and 10-0 in 2020.
The Mustangs have not won a road game against Effingham in nearly 15 years (September 26, 2008). Both teams enter this week on two-game winning streaks.
Effingham’s junior quarterback Nate Hayes has been solid behind center for head coach John Ford’s club. Hayes has thrown for 651 yards and four scores on 49-of-97 passing while rushing for 136 yards and a touchdown. Senior receiver Keion Wallace leads the team with 13 receptions for 235 yards and three scores.
South Effingham operates in a run-heavy offense and is led by senior Justin Martell. Martell has 211 yards and three touchdowns on 24 carries this season while Jamari Fields has carried a team-high 27 times for 144 yards and a touchdown.
LIBERTY COUNTY (2-2, 0-1) at JOHNSON (3-1, 1-0)
The winner of this game will have the inside track to a state playoff bid in Class 3A.
Johnson has started 3-1 for the first time since 2009 and the Atomsmashers are riding a three-game winning streak heading into this crucial region 3-3A matchup at Savannah High Stadium against Liberty County.
The Panthers have lost two straight after beginning the year 2-0 and they lost the region opener last week after leading at halftime, at home, versus Calvary Day.
Liberty’s dual-threat quarterback Carlos Keverene-Singleton leads the team in passing (650 yards, five touchdowns) and rushing (23 carries, 162 yards).
BENEDICTINE (2-2) at BOLLES SCHOOL (2-2)
Coming off its bye week, Benedictine will play in the state of Florida for a second time this season when the Cadets take on The Bolles School in Jacksonville.
Ranked No. 7 in Class 4A by the AJC this week, BC lost at Class 5A No. 3 Ware County two weeks ago.
The Bulldogs have lost two straight games after beginning their season at 2-0. They have scored 78 points and allowed 80. Bolles is paced by sophomore running back Emmett Grzebin who has 409 yards and four touchdowns on 87 carries through four games.
WEEK 5 SCHEDULE
FRIDAY SEPT. 23
GHSA 7A-Region 1
Richmond Hill at Coffee
GHSA 3A-Region 3
Groves at Beach (Islands)
Savannah Christian at Calvary Day
Liberty County at Johnson (Savannah High)
Savannah Country Day at Long County
GHSA 2A-Region 3
Windsor Forest at Vidalia
SCISA 2A Region I
Palmetto Christian at Bethesda (Daffin Park)
South Effingham at Effingham County
Wayne County at Jenkins (Memorial)
Benedictine at Bolles School (Jacksonville, FL)
Telfair County at Bryan County
Savannah High at Bulloch Academy
Memorial Day at St. Andrew's
FOLLOW Travis Jaudon on Twitter/Instagram @JaudonSports. Email him at travisLjaudon@gmail.com.
Optim Orthopedics supports Benedictine Military School, Calvary Day School, Richmond Hill High School, Savannah Country Day, South Effingham High School, and St. Vincent's athletics. Benedictine Military School's team doctor is Dr. David Sedory. The team doctor for Calvary Day School, South Effingham, and Richmond Hill is Dr. David Palmer. Savannah Country Day and St. Vincent's team doctor is Dr. Thomas Alexander. Remember, Optim Orthopedics gets you back into the game!