Things are looking good so far for the Paladins, who are 6-3 overall and 2-1 in 6A.
While Fellowship lost its first two games of the season to higher classification north Fulton rivals Johns Creek (Class AAAAAA) and Blessed Trinity (AAA), the Paladins bounced back with six wins in their last seven games.
“This year, we had more of our guys who chose to play football,” Fellowship Christian Mark Rickman said. “Of our 11 players, five of them played football and we had another run cross country and went to the state championship, so we stumbled a little early and we got off to a little bit of a slow start. But, we played really well once we got our legs under us.”
Fellowship enters the season with plenty of experience, with senior co-captains Roger Rickman, Hunter Bryant and Travis Kinney leading a veteran unit.
“It’s very senior dominated,” Mark Rickman said. “Of our 11 players, we have six seniors. Our kids have been in the program for four years. We don’t have any transfers, so we have kids who have come up and work really hard and put their time in and are starting to see some of the fruits of their labor.”
While Kinney has been out since the second game of the season with a high ankle sprain and won’t be back until after the Christmas break, Rickman and Bryant have picked up the slack – along with senior Alex Edmonds and sophomore Mitchell Keim.
“I’m very proud with how the rest of the guys have stepped up, because [Kinney] was one of our 4-year varsity players,” Rickman said. “To lose him, especially with us being a smaller school, is tough.”
Fellowship is scheduled to play in the Brighthouse Tournament in Orlando, Fla., where they will play Poinciana of Kissimmee, Fla. Friday.
The Paladins enter the holiday season with a three-game winning streak, including a 50-38 victory over Excel Christian in their most recent game Dec. 14.
Roger Rickman scored 16 points and had five steals, four assists and five rebounds, while Bryant added 14 points, eight rebounds, four assists, two blocks and two steals to lead the way.
Fellowship also recorded a 62-33 win over 6A rival Walker Dec. 13, with Keim scoring 12 points to pace the Paladins.
Things won’t get any easier for Fellowship after the holiday break as it faces the main part of a rigorous 6A schedule that includes last year’s Class A runner up and north Fulton rival St. Francis as well as state powerhouses Whitefield Academy and North Cobb Christian.
“I was talking to the coach at Excel, David Boyd, and he told me he thought that our region was the toughest region in the state,” Rickman said.
“I would have a tough time arguing with that. Since they changed the [state] playoff system to a power index [in Class A], every game is like a playoff game. North Cobb Christian beat [Class AAAAAA team] North Cobb by 20 last year and they were a final four team in Class AAAAAA last year. We have potentially 10 [NCAA] Division I players in our region and at least 15 college players coming out of our region in all.”