A rivalry. A region championship. And playoff home field advantage are all in up for grabs Friday night.
For the 12th time in their schools’ histories, Athens Academy and Prince Avenue Christian will face off in the “Backyard Brawl.” Prince Avenue leads the all-time series 6-5, including winning the last four matches between these teams.
Unlike past years though, this specific matchup carries a little more weight. Not only does a win secure bragging rights for the next year, but it also guarantees a region championship — which means home-field advantage throughout the first couple rounds of the playoffs.
Prince Avenue head coach Greg Vandagriif said securing home field is the biggest reason a team wants to win a region Championship.
“If you win the region championship, it sets you up to make it to at least the third round,” Vandagriff said.
Prince Avenue has won the Class A Region 8 — region encompassing northeast Georgia’s smallest schools — title the last three seasons. Sitting at 9-0 currently, Making it four titles in a row would be an ultimate victory for his seniors.
“Every senior that graduates. could be a region champion for his entire career at Prince, so that is pretty cool,” Vandagriff said.
Standing in their way though is cross-town rival Athens Academy, which is coming off a its first loss of the season to Commerce last Friday. But head coach Josh Alexander said the Spartans are past that loss and are looking ahead to this Friday’s Marquee matchup.
“The kids are excited,” Alexander said. “Anytime a region title comes down to the last game it’s fun for everyone.”
Athens Academy is focused and ready to capture its first region title since 2012 and avenge four straight losses to its Athens foe.
“I don’t have to sit up here and give some great [Vince] Lombardi speech,” Alexander said. “The kids are motivated.”
The game kicks off Friday at 7:30 p.m. at Prince Avenue School.
By: Alex Makrides