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Jonesboro face big test in No. 4 Griffin

Jonesboro coach Tim Floyd gives his scout team a play from the Griffin playbook to run against the first team defense on Wednesday. (Staff Photo: Derrick Mahone)

Jonesboro coach Tim Floyd gives his scout team a play from the Griffin playbook to run against the first team defense on Wednesday. (Staff Photo: Derrick Mahone)


Jonesboro offensive coordinator Nate Wardlaw, left, will be counting on senior quarterback Mario Atkinson to help lead the Cardinals’ offensive attack against No. 4 Griffin. (Staff Photo: Derrick Mahone)


When, where: Tonight at 7:30 p.m., Tara Stadium

Records, rankings: Griffin is 2-0 and ranked No. 4 in Class AAAA; Jonesboro is 1-1 and unranked.

Last meeting: Griffin won 35-33 in 2012

Scouting report: Griffin has a talented group of skill players, including a tall and athletic receiving corps that will test a young Jonesboro secondary. The winner of this game will be tied for first place in the Region 4-AAAA, Div. B standings with Riverdale. This is the first road game of the season for Griffin, while Jonesboro will be playing its third straight game at a Clayton County stadium.

JONESBORO — Tim Floyd constantly reminded his team that late scores in his team’s last two matchups against Griffin cost them the game.

And both of those games had big playoff implications.

In 2011, Griffin scored in the closing seconds for a Class AAAA playoff win in the first round. Last season, the Bears were able to get a late score in the Region 4-AAAA, Div. B matchup that helped them eventually clinch the subregion title.

The teams meet again tonight at Tara Stadium, and playoff implications could be on the line. Although it’s early in the season, both teams are considered contenders in the subregion.

Tonight’s winner ties Riverdale for the lead in the subregion standings.

“This being a subregion game makes it important,” Floyd said. “With Griffin being a top-10 team, it makes it an important game. It being Griffin makes it an important game. The winner of this game comes out with an edge in the subregion standings. If you start talking about playoffs, it is definitely an important game.”

Griffin coach Steve DeVoursney agreed.

“The last two times we played them they had Cameron Sutton (400 all-purpose yards last year alone vs. Griffin) — he’s starting for Tennessee right now — and he was the best player on the field every time,” DeVoursney told the Griffin Daily News earlier this week. “They don’t have that player, where he’s the best player on the field, but they have a couple who are really good.”

And so does Griffin, which enters the game ranked No. 4 in Class AAAA in the latest Georgia Sportswriters Association rankings.

The Bears are 2-0 after home wins over Dutchtown and Northgate. Griffin’s offense, which is averaging 47 points per game is led by quarterback Jaquez Parks. In the Northgate win, Parks completed 17 of 23 — including nine in a row at one point during the second half — ending the night with 199 yards and two scoring passes.

Jonesboro is 1-1 after a 7-0 loss to Westover last week at Twelve Oaks Stadium. The Cardinals had a potential game-tying touchdown ruled a fumble in the end zone. With three minutes remaining, Jonesboro got an interception and march almost the length of the field for the potential game-tying drive.

“The guys did a good job of keeping themselves together in the late part of the game,” Jonesboro offensive coordinator Nate Wardlaw said. “I think the team is ready for the challenge of playing Griffin. Our guys have a little chip on their shoulder because we know we are the obvious underdog.”

Griffin has won the last 20 meetings between the two schools.

If the last two meeting in the series — come-from behind Griffin wins of 47-43 in the opening round of the 2011 state playoffs at Tara Stadium and 34-33 in the regular season last year at Memorial Stadium in Griffin — are any indication, another wild affair might be in store.

This will be Griffin’s first road game of the young season.

“We have battled with them the last two years, so we know each other,” DeVoursney, in his 13th season guiding the Bears, added.

Floyd said he is interested in seeing how his defense response against a potent offense. In the first two games, the Cardinals first defensive unit has only yielded seven points.

“I’ve been pretty pleased with the defense so far,” Floyd said. “There are still some areas we have to improve on, and we definitely got to step it up 1,000 notches against Griffin. They are big and fast with some talented skill players. They have every thing you look for in a good team.”