In our last edition of the Toughest Schedules series, we break down Class A-Private. Region 5, consisting solely of metro Atlanta private schools, features three teams ranked in our preseason Class A-Private top 10. It only makes sense that the region features quite a few teams on our Class A-Private toughest schedules list.
5. Holy Innocents' - One of four teams from Region 5 on the list, the Golden Bears play three ranked teams this year as well as games against Class AA Wesleyan and Class AAAAA Riverwood. In non-region action, HIES plays No. 2 George Walton Academy and then region-rivals No. 1 ELCA and No. 5 Landmark Christian.
4. Aquinas - The Fighting Irish face four ranked teams this season in Class A, including No. 2 George Walton Academy, Public No. 1 Lincoln County, Public No. 4 Wilkinson County and No. 7 First Presbyterian.
3. ELCA - The top-ranked Chargers aren't afraid of anybody. The 2013 Class A-Private state champs play Class AAA No. 8 Washington County, Alabama powerhouse Briarwood Christian, a road trip to Clinch County, and region games versus No. 5 Landmark Christian and No. 10 Holy Innocents'. Washington County handed the Chargers their only defeat last season.
2. Our Lady of Mercy - Coach Mike Earwood has led the Bobcats to three straight winning seasons but will have a tough row to hoe this year, as OLM plays five ranked opponents. Three of those ranked teams are from the Bobcats' region, 5-A, which is also home to top-ranked ELCA, No. 5 Landmark Christian and No. 10 Holy Innocents'. Earwood's bunch also faces No. 8 Darlington and No. 9 Athens Academy.
1. Pace Academy - The Knights face No. 5 Landmark Christian, No. 1 ELCA, No. 9 Athens Academy, No. 7 First Presbyterian and No. 10 Holy Innocents'. Pace has only been a GHSA varsity squad since 2008, according to the database at GHSFHA.org, but first-year head coach Chris Slade has a monster of a task this season with this schedule, which is the toughest in Class A-Private.