Wolverines struggle in 2003 opener

By Anthony Rhoads, Jeffery Armstrong and Doug Gorman

Last year, the Union Grove Wolverines began the football season with a loss to Jackson. The 2003 campaign started in similar fashion Friday night as the Wolverines again fell to the Jackson Red Devils.

In its 28-7 loss, Union Grove was out gained by Jackson 416 total yards to 258.

Quarterback Bradley Kessler passed for 84 yards and provided Union Grove only touchdown on a 1-yard run in the fourth quarter. Michael Lawrence rushed for 66 yards.

Union Grove's leading receivers were Travis Burks with three catches for 35 yards and Justin Pair with two catches for 41 yards.

Union Grove entered the game ranked No. 9 in Class AA in the Associated Press pre-season high school football poll.

Union Grove plays host to Henry County this Friday.

Eagle's Landing Christian ties: The Jackson team has two former Eagle's Landing Christian players on its roster – running back Jake Hiett and lineman Kenny Hooper. Last year at ELCA, Hiett was the leading rushing in the Georgia Independent Schools Association.

Coaching debuts: The Danny Fairbanks era at Stockbridge began with a 19-13 loss to Monroe Area Friday night. Fairbanks was an assistant for Eagle's Landing before being named the head coach at Stockbridge this year.

Paul Burgdorf had better luck in his debut game coaching at Luella as the Lions defeated Whitewater 26-0 Friday night. Luella plays host to Kell this Friday.

Homecoming: Former Eagle's Landing punter Jonathan Wright was in the house Friday night for the Golden Eagle's season opener against McIntosh.

Wright, who is now a freshman punter at UT-Chattanooga, hobbled up the bleachers on crutches.

Wright broke a bone in his foot during the opening week of practice and is in a cast, which is expected to be removed sometime this week.

Wright, who missed Thursday night's opener against Samford, still hopes to return to the lineup this season. However, there is still a chance he could be red-shirted, giving him four years of eligibility when he returns to the team next year.

Highlight film: The Eagle's Landing Golden Eagles might have lost Friday's game against McIntosh, but there were some exciting plays to bring Golden Eagle fans to their feet, including an interception by Tony Philon.

The senior linebacker grabbed the football out of the air after it was tipped by teammate Dustin Clay.

Clayton County ties: Three coaches who took part in Friday night's football game between Eagle's Landing and McIntosh at one time coached high school football teams in Clayton County.

McIntosh head coach Butch Prosser served as the long-time defense coordinator at Mt. Zion. Eagle's Landing offensive coordinator Bob Smith stepped down after last year after several seasons as Forest Park's head coach.

Tom Smith, who is the defensive coordinator at Eagle's Landing, spent one year as head coach at Riverdale.

For kicks: Lovejoy's David McHone only had to punt twice in the Wildcats' 42-18 victory Friday night over Forest Park, but he made them count.

His first attempt was for 41 yards and his second attempt was a 55-yarder that went into the end zone for a touchback.

McHone also recovered a fumble on the opening kickoff of Friday night's game.

The streak continues: Friday's Riverdale-North Clayton game was the 20th game in the series. With Riverdale's 41-21 victory, the Raiders lead the series 14-6 and have won the last four games, dating back to the 2000 season. The last North Clayton victory in the series was a 22-12 win in the 1999 season. With both teams splitting into different regions next year, they may not play each other again for a long time.

Wait till he gets better: North Clayton head coach Don Shockley said senior quarterback Ozier France was rusty, especially since he had two fumbles and two interceptions.

France was hurt for five weeks before the season, but he played well Friday against Riverdale. France was 12-of-22 for 198 yards and two touchdowns and had 10 rushes for 61 yards.