Mark Farriba has coached against Savannah Christian before, but that was some time ago.
And it was in a different association.
Farriba’s FPD teams played Savannah Christian in 1985-87 in the GISA before the Raiders made the jump to the GHSA. On Friday, Farriba’s Prince Avenue Christian team will play Savannah Christian in the GHSA Class A semifinals.
“It’s pretty odd that we’re facing them after all these years,” Farriba said. “It’s kind of ironic that we played them in the GISA, and now we’re playing them again in the GHSA with so much on the line.”
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Farriba, who also coached at Stratford before taking over at Prince Avenue Christian, isn’t the only coach still working in the GHSA playoffs with ties to Middle Georgia.
Eagle’s Landing Christian head coach Jonathan Gess was an offensive line coach at FPD, and Calhoun head coach Hal Lamb was a head coach at Upson-Lee. Lamb is the brother of new Mercer head football coach Bobby Lamb.
Savannah Christian (12-1) is used to being in this position; it has lost in the championship game the past two seasons. But Farriba’s Wolverines are new to playing this late in the season.
The Wolverines began play in 2005, and Farriba took over in 2007. They went 22-32-1 in their first six seasons and reached the playoffs for the first time last year. Farriba was 18-22-1 in his first four seasons, and the Wolverines lost in the first round of the playoffs in 2010.
But this season, Prince Avenue Christian is 13-0 and has been dominant throughout. The Wolverines have averaged 30.2 points per game while allowing an average of 7.3. Eight times they have held opponents to single digits in scoring, including five shutouts.
“We thought we had a chance to be better this year and improve our program,” Farriba said. “But I never really thought we’d be at this point, to be honest.”
Farriba was the head coach at FPD from 1985-1996 and Stratford from 2003-2006. He won a state title at FPD in 1985 and lost in the final in 1988, and he won a state title at Stratford in 2004.
Now, he is two wins away from another state title, this time in the GHSA.
“We had a huge crowd last week, and everyone is just so excited,” Farriba said. “It’s funny, I had a mom come up to me the other night and said it was so exciting, and everyone was screaming and yelling, and her son said, ‘Yeah mom, but now we’re winning.’ ”