Photo by Derrick Mahone
Staff writers Gabriel Stovall (left) and Brian Paglia give their opinions of who will win tonight’s Region 4-AAAAA, Div. A showdown between Mundy’s Mill and Union Grove.
Mundy's Mill wins
The sports definition of an upset is to defeat unexpectedly an opponent favored to win.
So if Mundy’s Mill, 3-0 in Region 4-AAAAA, Div. A and winners of three straight, does the unthinkable tonight and triumphs over Union Grove, it could arguably become one of the upsets of the year.
The Tigers rough 0-4 start may not be as rough as you think upon first glance. After absorbing a 44-6 rout from Lovejoy, coach Greg Manior’s competed well their next three games.
Their three wins against Mount Zion, Drew and Forest Park happened in the mild confines of Clayton County stadiums —a far cry from the raucous atmosphere awaiting them at Wolverine Stadium in McDonough.
But trips to Peachtree City (McIntosh) and Douglas (Coffee) have given Mundy’s Mill familiarity with tough atmospheres.
And that means the Tigers feel like they’re ready to take that next step.
Good teams aren’t just measured by how they perform in the big games, such as Mundy’s Mill’s 32-31 win over Drew, but also in how they win the games they’re supposed to win.
Maybe even more impressive than the Drew victory was the fact that there was absolutely no let down the very next week as the Tigers ran through Forest Park 55-8.
And then there’s the matter of stopping Rodney Smith. The junior is averaging almost 180 yards a contest and 8.7 yards a carry.
He tallied back-to-back 300-yard performances against Mount Zion and Mundy’s Mill, and likely would’ve had a third if not benched after the first half of the Forest Park game.
Another game like that for Smith, and Mundy’s Mill comes out on top.
Let this sportswriter be among the first to sound the upset alert alarm.
— Gabriel Stovall
Union Grove wins
Welcome to Wolverine Stadium, Mundy’s Mill. There’s no place like it in Henry County. There’s certainly none like it in Clayton County.
The atmosphere for tonight’s Region 4-AAAAA, Div. A game will be unlike anything Mundy’s Mill has seen this season.
A student section? Yes, Union Grove has one.
A packed stadium? Yep, the Wolverines play in front of one at almost every home game.
If there’s a school that’s succeeded in capturing the essence of Friday Night Lights on a consistent basis, it’s Union Grove.
That could be trouble for a Mundy’s Mill team that’s coming off three straight games in Clayton County — all wins. The Tigers will have noise level and intensity to deal with.
But more than that, they’ll have a talented Union Grove team brimming with momentum and confidence to deal with. That’s a dangerous combination.
So maybe Mundy’s Mill figures it will concentrate on stopping Union Grove running back Derrick Craine. The Wolverines still have running back Miles Vaughn, who averages 6.7 yards per carry, and quarterback Jonathan Slade, who’s thrown just one interception this year and knows how to find wide receiver Caleb Ham.
Maybe the Tigers think running back Rodney Smith will be enough to slice apart Union Grove’s defense. Except that unit is giving up just five points a game over their last four games.
Maybe Mundy’s Mill just feels it’s due, that it’s finally in a position again to contend for the playoffs, that it’ll be hungrier than Union Grove. Except the Wolverines are eager to erase their two-year playoff drought. That’s unacceptable for a program that’s established a culture of success.
Maybe Mundy’s Mill wins.
But I don’t think so.
— Brian Paglia