Photo by Derrick Mahone
Lovejoy coach Al Hughes will lead his Wildcats into a key Region 4-AAAA game against North Clayton tonight at Tara Stadium.
Drew vs. Spalding
When, where: Today, Memorial Stadium, Griffin
Time: 7 p.m.
Last season: Spalding won 21-18 last season.
What’s at stake?: This is the Region 4-AAA opener for both teams. With matchups against Sandy Creek, Henry County and Stockbridge still left, neither team wants to fall too far behind in the standings as they make a run for a playoff spot. Both teams are coming off wins last week, so a lack of confidence shouldn’t be a factor. Spalding defeated LaGrange 28-21 on a scoring run by freshman Jabril Reid in the closing seconds. Drew defeated Episcopal of Florida 56-28 for its largest margin of victory in school history.
How important is this game?: Aside from it being a region contest, Drew is still in the early building stages of its program. Last season, the Titans knocked off a ranked Eastside team on the road, but was unable to build any momentum the rest of the season. With a senior group, coach Jarrett Laws is looking for some maturity out of this team. In this league, getting a win on the road is crucial.
What to look for?: Will the Titans be focused on this game, or will they be looking ahead to next week’s matchup against two-time defending champion Sandy Creek in the Georgia Dome? It will be a contrast of offensive styles between Spalding’s triple option offense against the Titans’ spread.
Difference makers: Both teams are led by junior quarterbacks. Spalding’s Powell Krepps is 3-1 as a starter dating back to last season. Last week, Krepps led the Jaguars to a win against LaGrange to give first-year coach Nick Davis his first win at the school. Jay Murray inherited the Drew job over the summer and has been solid in the Titans first two games in accounting for five touchdowns.
How we see it: It seems that Drew is turning the corner as a program and could be a force to contend with in its second full varsity season. The team has rallied around its first year quarterback, who is playing with a lot of confidence. Team speed is its biggest asset on defense, which has two Div. I prospects in the secondary. Drew should win a close one.
Lovejoy vs. North Clayton
When, where: Today, Tara Stadium, Jonesboro
Time: 7 p.m.
Last season: Lovejoy won 27-21 in overtime. Lovejoy leads all-time series 6-3.
What’s at stake?: North Clayton has gotten off to a 2-0 start in the Max Wiltz era, but this will be the Eagles biggest test. They defeated
Riverdale 7-0 in the opener and followed that with a 22-0 win over Mundy’s Mill. North Clayton is currently tied with Banneker and Jonesboro for the lead in Region 4-AAAA.
How important is this game?: With the teams playing a 10-game region schedule, every game is important. There is very little room for era or a slip up. Lovejoy, the defending region champion, has won 12 straight regular season games.
What to look for?: This will be an opportunity to see how good North Clayton’s defense really is this season. The Eagles have two shutout wins, but neither Riverdale or Mundy’s Mill have as much offensive firepower as Lovejoy will bring tonight. With quarterback Alejandro Bennifield pulling the trigger of their spread offensive scheme, the Wildcats have big-play capabilities. North Clayton’s offensive line must be able to handle Lovejoy’s size up front to not force quarterback Dennis Johnson is into a long passing night.
Difference makers: Lovejoy’s talented secondary of Div. I recruits Rico McWilliams and Jermaine Hough will be tested against the Eagles’ speed of Malcolm Frederick and La’Darius Mathis. Lovejoy’s hybrid receiver Arshad Jackson (6-6, 220) can present matchup problems for the Eagles.
How we see it: Both teams have talented defenses that have speed. North Clayton linebacker Aaron Adwater can cause havoc with the Lovejoy offensive flow. The difference will likely be Lovejoy’s size and experience at key position. Lovejoy should pull out another win over the Eagles.