Wes McCard Sports Editor
September 6, 2013
In 2012 the Upson-Lee Knights nearly pulled off a huge upset over the state ranked Tigers from Stockbridge at Matthews Field. Unfortunately, the Knights fumbled late in the game deep in Tigers’ territory. Stockbridge returned an interception for a touchdown as time expired, defeating Upson-Lee by a 13-3 score.
Tonight, the two teams enter their showdown in Stockbridge where they will both play on the same field at the same time, but that’s about where the comparisons of the two teams end. The Knights are looking for their identity, with many uncertainties in the 2013 season. Upson-Lee has several young players which are in key roles, and it’s virtually unknown how good the 2013 version of the Knights can be at this point and time. Tonight should go a long way to answering that question.
“Hopefully we can carry some momentum from our victory last week into tonight’s game,”said Knights head coach Tommy Watson. “We’re excited to play them. They have a very good football team, and it will be a great test for us. After tonight, we should know a lot more about our football team. This game should be well worth the price of admission.”
On the other hand, the Tigers are coming off a season where they finished with an 11-2 record and advanced to the third round of the state playoffs. Stockbridge is loaded with seniors and a few Division I prospects, including defensive back Kendarius Webster, running back Maetron Thomas, and linebacker Cameron Gordon. The Tigers have earned the reputation of a stingy defensive team that runs the football with a speedy backfield. They return nine starters off of a defense which allowed only 11 points per game in 2012.
Offensively the Tigers run the triple option or double slot offense (the same offense ran by Georgia Tech), consisting of two wing backs and a fullback. Stockbridge returns running back Malik Bryan, who rushed for 1,205 yards and 13 TD in 2012. They also return wing back Maetron Thomas, who has offers from Furman and North Carolina.
Defensively Stockbridge plays a 4-3 defensive scheme, with the secondary many times playing cover zero or man coverage. The Tigers have one of the better cornerbacks in the state with Kendarius Webster. The 6’1, 175 pound senior has offers from Georgia, Ole Miss, and Tennessee among others, but seems to favor the Rebels of Ole Miss. Webster was named to the AJC’s Elite 11 of 2013, highlighting their 11 best players in the state. Linebacker Cameron Gordon also returns as a key member of the Tigers defense. The 6’, 200 pound senior has offers from Appalachian State and Georgia State.
Last season, UL’s Kenderius Pennyman rushed for 59 yards on 12 carries against the Tigers, with the only scoring from the Knights coming off the leg of Tyler Stewart and his 40-yard field goal. The game last year was a quick one, with both teams sticking to their running games, and according to Watson, this game could be much of the same.
“It’s no secret that they want to run the football, and we also want to establish the run,” said Watson. “They are the defending Region 4 Champions and ranked No. 4 in the state for a reason. They probably have the best defense we will see all year. They are a very talented and very well coached football team. This will be a great test for us, and we are excited about it.”
The Knights’ running attack is led by what some are calling thunder and lightning. The thunder coming from Pennyman, who stands at 6’, 205 pounds, with the lightning coming from 5’7, 155 pound senior Sontrell Perry. Last week lightning struck three times for touchdowns, as Perry rushed for 201 yards and 2 TD on just 12 carries. Perry also returned a kick off 94 yards for a score. Thunder had a little tougher time, with Pennyman rushing for 43 yards on 12 carries, and 1 TD.
The Knights will try to bring their thunderstorm to Stockbridge tonight, when they take on the No. 4 state ranked Tigers. Kick off is slated for 7:30 p.m.