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Running the gauntlet: Fun for Luella, doldrums for Drew

Photo by Derrick Mahone
Drew coach Jarrett Laws says his team “specialize in minimalization” when asked about his team’s upcoming Region 4-AAA schedule that features playoff contenders Stockbridge, Eastside and Henry County.

Photo by Derrick Mahone Drew coach Jarrett Laws says his team “specialize in minimalization” when asked about his team’s upcoming Region 4-AAA schedule that features playoff contenders Stockbridge, Eastside and Henry County.

Strong Rock Christian coach Mark Miller was talking about the benefits of getting Southwest Atlanta Christian at home tonight, instead of on the road as originally planned. Part of why that works out so well for the Patriots is because of what lies ahead.

“A Murderer’s Row — Eagle’s Landing Christian, Our Lady of Mercy and Landmark Christian,” Miller said.

Murdere’s Row is always relative. One team’s Murderer’s Row is another team’s lunch.

For instance, Strong Rock’s Murderer’s Row three might look mighty appetizing for Class AAAAA’s Luella, compared to what awaits the Lions. Off to one of their best starts at 3-0, the Lions are about to take on 10th-ranked East Coweta tonight, No. 4-ranked Stephenson next week, No. 6-ranked M.L. King the week after that and hardly slouchy Newnan the fourth week.

“We can’t wait, honestly” Luella coach Nic Vasilchek said. “The way we look at it, you can be afraid your whole life or you can fight and see what you’re made of. We are not what some people think we are.”

Stockbridge, ranked for the first time in a generation, is preparing for a tough stretch. After tonight’s game against Eagle’s Landing, the Tigers get Drew, Henry County and Eastside.

Drew is as much running the gauntlet as Stockbridge — maybe more so — though the Titans try not to frame their season in bunches of games.

“We specialize in minimalization,” Drew coach Jarrett Laws said, a six-syllable way of saying they take things one game at a time, even one play at a time.

It’s his way of not raising expectations so high that they lead to crushing disappointment, although that didn’t exactly work after a demoralizing 35-0 loss to Sandy Creek in the Georgia Dome last week started the Titans’ stretch of tough games. Losing starting quarterback Jay Murray early in the game crippled the Titans, and changed what they could do on offense.

“My wife had to pull me out of the doldrums after that game,” Laws said. “I think my biggest disappointment is that we didn’t get a chance to shoot all of our bullets. We felt like we could stand toe to toe with them but . . . we never got a chance to implement our game plan.”

The Titans have playoff teams Stockbridge and Eastside to play as well, meaning it might be a good thing that Laws has a week off to recover. This time. He won't have that if those games end in disappointment.

Win or lose, Vasilchek is approaching this four-game stretch the way Evel Knievel approached jumping a canyon on a motorbike.

“It's the best position to be in, the underdog,” Vasilchek said. “This is America, the land of opportunity and we have a wonderful opportunity. Everybody may think we’re crazy, but we’re excited. We can’t wait.”