Devils Prepare for War Eagle Offensive Onslaught in Tyrone

November 25, 2002

Very few times in the past three decades have our Red Devils entered a playoff game as a heavy underdog. This Friday will be one of those times.

"Landmark Christian will be one of the biggest challenges we've faced in some time," head coach Larry Campbell said in this week's The Lincoln Journal. "They are 11-0 and they have the top-ranked quarterback in the state as a junior."

"If our kids play and play well, and if they don't turn the football over, we could win," the coach continued. "Our game plan is going to be to try to drive the football and keep possesion so that their quarterback has to stay on the sidelines, because when No.7 [Alex Mortensen] and No. 22 [Sean Hill] are on the field, they're going to score some points. We're going to do everything we can to take some time off the clock," he explained. "It'll be a battle," Campbell said. "If we were healthy, I'd feel a whole lot better."

But the Devils are not as healthy as we would wish. Terrell Elam, possibly the Devils best pass rusher, is doubtful due to a knee injury. And Alex Wideman, another good lineman, is also questionable. Both were injured in last Friday's Bremen game.  

Based on information from the GAVSV Class A vent and other sources, Landmark Christian (LCS) can run and pass very well. The War Eagles (11-0) are led by junior QB Alex Mortensen, the son of noted sports author and ESPN NFL analyst Chris Mortensen. This season, often from the shotgun, Mortensen (#7 - click here for more on that) has passed for over 2,200 yards and 25 touchdowns, with only 5 interceptions. A huge and good-blocking offensive line gives the strong-armed quarterback the time to find and hit his receivers, although he usually doesn't hold the ball long. Another familiar name on the Landmark roster is that of their senior wide receiver/running back, Evander Holyfield Jr., is the son of the championship boxer from Atlanta.

According to the Georgia High School Football magazine, Landmark has four college prospects: offensive lineman Chris Capps (6-6, 260) [Division I] {click}, wide receiver/defensive back Sean Hill (5-10, 165, 4.4 speed){click}, defensive lineman Wren Gibby (6-1, 178), and wide receiver Jason Godbee (6-2, 180). Including Mortensen at QB, the War Eagles returned 9 offensive starters and 8 defensive starters, including most linebackers and offensive linemen. Mortensen has nearly doubled his passing yardage from 2001, and has improved his TD passes by 150%.

While the War Eagles like to fly high with the pass, they can run too, with over 2,400 yards so far in 2002. They have outscored their 11 opponents 490-116, for an average winning margin of 34 points. Last week in their 48-7 win over Jefferson, Landmark gained over 500 yards in offense with Mortensen passing for 274.

While those numbers are very impressive, we also must consider these for the proper context: only two of Landmark's opponents have winning records: Heard County is 10-1, losing to LCS 46-23 in October; Bowdon ended at 6-5 after losing in the first round last Friday. Bowdon lost to LCS 28-6 November 1 in a game where the Bowdon QB was injured in the first quarter and did not return. Counting Jefferson twice since they played them twice, Landmark's opponents are currently a combined 38-77. Five made the playoffs, with only one still alive -- Heard plays at Twiggs County Friday.

Our Red Devils' 7-4 record, while not as impressive as LCS's 11-0, came against stronger opponents. Their combined record is 65-53, with five having winning records. Eight of 11 made the playoffs, with four still active: W-W, Athens Academy, Commerce, and Twiggs County. That's two region champs and two region runner-ups. And the Devils could have won at least three of the four games they lost.