High school football: big year for private schools

Privately moving up

There are 10 metro Atlanta private schools that compete in Class AAAA, AAA or AA. Half of them have made the state semifinals. Here is a look at how each of the 10 have fared this season.


Woodward Academy 11-2

Westminster 12-1

St. Pius 11-2

Blessed Trinity 13-0

Greater Atlanta Christian 13-0


Lovett 9-4

Marist 11-2

Pace Academy 7-6

First round

Wesleyan 6-5

No playoffs

Holy Innocents’ 2-8

The high school football season is down to 28 teams playing for seven state championships and it’s shaping up to be the best fall ever for private schools.

A record 10 private schools are in the semifinals, at least two each in classifications AAAA, AAA, AA and A. (There are no private schools in AAAAAA or AAAAA.)

One state title is assured because of the public-private split in Class A that began in 2012. The private Class A final four ia comprised of Eagle’s Landing Christian of McDonough, Mount Paran Christian of Kennesaw, Calvary Day of Savannah and Aquinas of Augusta.

But the real success of private schools this season is revealed in the other classifications.

There are only 10 private schools in metro Atlanta that compete in AA, AAA or AAAA and half of those are in the semifinals. They are Woodward Academy and St. Pius in AAAA, Westminster and Blessed Trinity in AAA and Greater Atlanta Christian in AA.

Also in the AA semifinals is Benedictine, an all-male Catholic military school in Savannah, which accounts for the 10th private school.

Of the five metro Atlanta private schools in AAAA-AA that did not make the semifinals, Lovett, Marist and Pace Academy were eliminated in the quarterfinals. Lovett, the defending Class AA champion, lost to another private school (Benedictine), and Marist, ranked No. 4 in AAAA, lost to the No. 1-ranked team (Buford). Pace, which started varsity football in 2008, won its first two playoff games in history this season.

Only Holy Innocents’ among the 10 did not make the playoffs. Wesleyan went out in the first round. Pace, Wesleyan and Holy Innocents’ were the smallest, fourth-smallest and 15th-smallest schools, respectively, in AA at reclassification.

The five still playing are not strangers to football success, but each has seen a recent turn in football fortunes.

Woodward is in the semifinals for the first time since its state championship season of 1980, despite moving up in classification this season.

St. Pius, which also moved up from AAA, is in the semifinals for the third time since 2006. Before that, St. Pius had gone 38 years without a semifinal.

Westminster is in the semifinals for the first time since 1996. Blessed Trinity is in the semis for the first time ever and is 13-0. The team had never won more than nine games in a season until this year.

Greater Atlanta Christian, also 13-0, was ranked No. 1 in a Journal-Constitution preseason poll for the first time and has held the top spot every week. GAC made two previous semifinals, but has never won a state title.

Only two private schools have won state titles outside of Class A in the past 30 years: Lovett (2013) and Marist (1989, 2003).

History isn’t on their side, but the numbers are.