Nothing to lose; everything to gain

Wes McCard Sports Editor

October 25, 2013

Two weeks ago the Knights may have been looking at this date thinking that their match up with the No. 3 state ranked Bears tonight would be for the Sub Region Championship and a No. 1 seed in the week 10 crossover game. However, after a disappointing 40-28 loss to Riverdale last Friday night, the chances of a Knights’ No. 1 seed and Sub Region Championship are slim, very slim, but there’s still a chance.

If the Knights hope to gain a No. 1 seed for the week 10 crossover game, they will need a victory tonight against the talented Bears, a win over the Jonesboro Cardinals next Friday night at Matthews Field, and they would need Jonesboro to beat Riverdale tonight in a match up at Southern Crescent Stadium. With all of that, the most important thing is trying to find a way to defeat the Bears in Griffin tonight, something that UL head coach Tommy Watson knows will not be easy.

“I have to say that they are the best offensive high school football team that I have coached against, whether it’s as a head coach, a coordinator, or an assistant coach,” said Watson. “They have so many athletes that can make plays. Their QB can run and throw, they have three wide outs that are 6’3 or taller, a tight end that can be a weapon on any part of the field, and a couple of running backs that make plays in space. They are scoring 40 points a game, so obviously we will have our hands full defensively. We need to make tackles in space and not give up the big plays. We have to force them to drive the football down the field, rather than just going for the big plays.”

The Bears potent offense is a spread offense, where many times they have an empty backfield and four or five wide outs. Offensively the Bears have five players that have received Division I scholarship offers. Junior WR Christian Owens (6’5, 215) has committed to UGA, junior WR Darquavius Mangham (6’3, 185) has an offer from Vanderbilt, junior WR Keyston Fuller (6’1, 180) has an offer from UNC, senior WR Trey Willis (6’3, 190) has offers from Western Kentucky, Georgia State, and South Alabama, while senior QB Jacquez Parks (6’1, 195) has offers from Air Force, Harvard, and Yale. The senior QB became the the county’s all-time leading passer last week when he threw for 272 yards and 2 TDs against North Clayton, Parks also added three touchdowns on the ground. Last season Parks threw for a career high 273 yards against Upson-Lee.

Defensively the Bears run variations of an 8-man front, and usually play cover three in the secondary. Defensive end Johnathon Frost (6’3, 225) is a three-year starter, while senior line backer Telly Sloan (5’11, 220) is one of the leading tacklers on the team. Defensive Coordinator and Thomaston native Rusty Easom, has his Bears defense only allowing 10 points per game, and they have shutout three teams this season (35-0 over Northgate, 38-0 over Jonesboro, and 49-0 over Riverdale).

“I think the key for us in this game is to limit turnovers and control the clock,” said Watson. “We can’t turn the ball over and give them more possessions. They are going to make some plays, but we have to limit the big plays. Our best defense may be long sustained drives on offense, keeping their offense on the sidelines.”

The Knights will hit the road up Highway 19 to take on the undefeated Bears tonight at Memorial Stadium. Kickoff for the annual rival game is slated for 7:30 p.m.