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Union Grove, Mundy's Mill jockey for first place in Region 4A-AAAAA

Photo by Derrick Mahone / Mundy’s Mill coach Greg Manior gots over the scouting report on this week’s opponent Union Grove during Monday’s practice. The winner of Region 4-AAAAA, Div. A game takes over sole possession of first place

Photo by Derrick Mahone / Mundy’s Mill coach Greg Manior gots over the scouting report on this week’s opponent Union Grove during Monday’s practice. The winner of Region 4-AAAAA, Div. A game takes over sole possession of first place

What awaits Union Grove and Mundy’s Mill on Friday night is what each team’s coach says is the beauty of high school football.

Friday night under the lights in a capacity stadium.

HOW THEY COMPARE

Both Mundy’s Mill and Union Grove are relative new schools.

Mundy’s Mill Union Grove

Year opened 2003 2000

Overall record 35-62-2 70-67-1

Playoff appearances 2006 2002, ’05, ’08, ’09

Times ranked None Once (2008)

Region titles None 2002

All-state players 3 12

Source: Georgia High School Football Historians Association

Add to that the chance to take sole possession of first place in the subregion.

“At this point in the season, you want to be playing for something,” Union Grove coach Paul Burgdorf said.

“I think the guys understand the magnitude of this game,” Mundy’s Mill coach Greg Manior said.

It has been a while since Union Grove has been in a position to play for a top seed in the playoffs. The Wolverines’ only region title came in 2002 when they won the Region 5-AA title and advanced to the quarterfinals.

Mundy’s Mill has never won a region title and has two playoff appearances since the school opened in 2003.

“Our juniors and seniors have been waiting for this moment,” said Manior, who is in his first year at Mundy’s Mill. “They have a big meaning behind this game. I think it has shown in practice because they want to have a good showing.”

The winner takes over sole possession of first place in Region 4-AAAAA, Div. A heading into the final two weeks of the season. The winner of each subregion takes on the No. 4 team in the opposite subregion while the No. 2 and 3 teams play with each of the winners advancing to the state playoffs.

Union Grove’s last playoff appearance came in 2009 while the Tigers haven’t been to the postseason since the 2007 season.

Both teams are on a mini winning streak heading into the 7:30 p.m. contest at Wolverine Stadium. Mundy’s Mill has won three straight games, one shy of tying a school record. Union Grove has won four straight.

Union Grove is 6-1 overall while Mundy’s Mill is 3-4. Both teams are 3-0 in the subregion.

Last week, the Tigers scored a school-record 55 points in a subregion win over winless Forest Park.

This is the tough stretch of the season for the Wolverines, who take on Drew next week at Southern Crescent Stadium. Drew, which lost 32-31 to Mundy’s Mill, still is in the hunt for the top spot.

“Looking at the next few weeks, we have some big games, but it all starts with Mundy’s Mill on Friday,” Burgdorf said. “We have to be focused.”

And focus is something that Manior has seen in his team the last four weeks. After a 23-18 loss at McIntosh, the Tigers have won three straight in the subregion by averaging 39 points per game.

“The players have really been buying into the system,” Manior said. “After the McIntosh game, I’ve seen a different focus with the team.”

Since their teams have not been in this type of position before, the coaches acknowledge some concern about big-game jitters.

“As a coach, there is always that concern factor,” Manior said. “These players have been on the bottom, and I think they want their shot at being on the top.”

Said Burgdorf: “I don’t think our approach will be any different. We have grown up a lot through this season.”

The game will pit two of the Southern Crescent’s top running back against each other. Mundy’s Mill is led by junior Rodney Smith, who has rushed for 1,256 yards and 15 touchdowns while senior Derrick Craine has 1,048 yards and 13 touchdowns.

“Mundy’s Mill has played good football in the second part of the season,” Burgdorf said. “Both teams like to run the ball so it could be a fast game.”