Heritage School gets unexpected week off after forfeitBy CHRIS GOLTERMANN
This was not how The Heritage School wanted to finally post a football victory against rival Arlington Christian.
Forced to forfeit the rest of its game last Friday against Trinity Christian trailing 31-12 with four minutes left in the first quarter due to four injuries among a roster of 14 players, Arlington’s program will once again be unable to take the field this week for its scheduled game Friday at Heritage School.
The Heritage School will take a 3-0 record into next Friday’s trip to Dawson Street Christian in LaGrange.
“I talked with their athletic director [Greg Cannon] and they were going to have a meeting with the kids and their parents to discuss how they’re going to go about things,” Prisant said. “I hate it when we lose schools. GISA football is the only thing I’ve known, both as a player and as a coach and I don’t want to see programs struggle like that. I know our guys were looking forward to playing them this year.”
Attempts to reach officials at Arlington Christian on Tuesday were unsuccessful. During the spring, the Eagles went through a coaching change when second-year head coach and former NFL running back Robert Edwards was hired at Greene County. The one-time Georgia Bulldog compiled a 15-7 record in two seasons, reaching the GISA Class AA playoffs both times.
Former Alabama fullback Kenneth Scissum, who also played in the NFL, was hired as the Eagles’ new head coach during the offseason. But by the team’s season opener against Dawson Street on Aug. 24, Arlington’s roster included only 14 players. At least two of the team’s rising seniors transferred to Landmark Christian and two others are now at Westlake and Pebblebrook, respectively.
Last week, Arlington jumped out to a quick 12-0 lead against Trinity by returning the opening kickoff for a score and converting a fumble off Trinity’s first drive. The Lions responded for 31 points in the next six minutes. Arlington lost the last of four players to injuries around the eight-minute mark of the quarter before Scissum let officials and Trinity head coach Chris Hanson know that they couldn’t go on without the required 11 on the field.
“I’ve never been a part of anything like that,” said Hanson, who was also sympathetic to the Eagles’ struggles. “You never want to see that happen. It’s not good for anybody involved. They have a good program and their coach is doing a good job. They’re just down [in numbers] this year.”
Averaging 53 1/2 points over its first two games, Heritage School seemed primed to stay undefeated this week having been winless against Arlington in four consecutive meetings since 2008. Last year’s 35-33 loss in Fairburn was the closest and sent the Hawks on the road for the GISA state playoffs as the No. 3 seed while denying Heritage a chance at hosting the program’s first-ever postseason game.
“It’s good and bad. We lose a gate and a home game, but injury-wise it helps. Those guys get an extra week to rest,” said Prisant, who is still without senior starting quarterback Joe Bonner and may not have him back at the earliest until Heritage’s trip to Class AAA Southland Academy on Sept. 28. “But it’s not what you want. I hate it for them.”
Reclassification in the GISA this year left only 12 teams in both AAA and A and 20 in AA.
Arlington’s departure would leave just three teams in Region 3-AA and no less than five in the other three Class AA regions. Should the state brackets stand pat, one of the other division champions will receive a first-round bye in the playoffs.