Upson-Lee football season preview
Taking a look at the Knights’ opponents in 2013
by Wes McCard Sports Editor
In 2012, the Upson-Lee Knights finished with a 4-6 record, with four of those six losses coming by 10 points or less. In 2013 the Knights will try and turn those six defeats into victories, playing the same opponents as last season. Let’s take a look at what the Knights can expect to see in 2013.
Aug. 30 vs. Pike County Pirates- Last season the Knights suffered a tough 40-39 double overtime loss at Pirate Field in Zebulon. This season, the Pirates will play the Knights for the first time in history at Matthews Field. The Pirates finished 2012 with a 6-5 record, including an upset over a ranked Jackson team which enabled them to earn a state playoff berth, although they were blown out 55-7 in the first round by a tough Washington County team.
The Pirates return several key players from the skill positions, including quarterback Tyler Greggory and running back Artez Oglesbee. Last season Oglesbee compiled nearly 250 all purpose yards against the Knights. Oglesbee finished last season with 799 yards rushing, while Greggory passed for 800 yards and complied 700 yards on the ground. The Pirates have lost several starters on the both their offensive and defensive line. They also must replace 2012 team captain Jess Devoursney, who started at linebacker and tight end. The Pirates do return Hunter Bishop at the linebacker position. Bishop compiled 89 tackles in 2012.
Sept. 06 @ Stockbridge Tigers- In 2012 the Tigers and Knights squared off in a defensive battle, with the Knights fumbling deep in Tiger territory twice, including late in the fourth quarter. The Tigers returned an 84-yard interception for a score as the final seconds ran off the clock, defeating Upson-Lee by a 13-3 score. This season the Tigers are ranked in the top 10 in the state in nearly every preseason poll, including a No. 5 ranking in the AJC.
The Tigers made a deep run in the playoffs last fall before losing to Marist in the third round. The Tigers return several players off last season’s 11-2 squad. They have seniors in nearly every position in 2013 and could make another deep run in the playoffs. The Tigers boast perhaps the best cornerback in the state in Kendarius Webster, who was named First-Team All-State last season, and is a member of the AJC’s 2013 preseason Elite 11 (The AJC’s picks for top 11 players in Georgia). Webster has offers from UGA, Alabama, and Florida State among others, while fellow corner back and wide receiver Maetron Thomas has offers from Vanderbilt and North Carolina. The Tigers are one of the few teams the Knights will see in 2013 which do not run the spread offense. The Tigers employ the triple option offense, exploiting their athleticism on the perimeter.
Sept. 13 vs. Eagles Landing- The Knights earned their first victory of the season against the Golden Eagles in McDonough in 2012. The game was an offensive shootout, as the Knights held on for a 31-29 victory. The Golden Eagles return their quarterback and running back from 2012.
Quarterback Bradley Dewberry threw for over 2,000 yards last season and rushed for another 570 yards for the team which finished 1-9 in 2012. Star running back Corey Holloway also returns after a season which saw him rush for 1,370. Only UL’s Corey Moss rushed for more yards last season in Region 4. The Knights faced the Golden Eagles over the summer in a 7 vs. 7 passing game, holding their own against Eagles Landing and their tall wide receivers.
Sept. 20 vs. Central Macon Chargers- Last season Upson-Lee scored a season high 42 points against the Chargers. Last season the Chargers boasted one of the best linebackers in Georgia with Nigel Bowden, who now plays for Vanderbilt. The Chargers finished with a 2-8 record in 2012.
Returning for Chargers is starting running back Jojo Colbert, who was named to the All Middle Georgia Football Team by the Macon Telegraph. Head coach Jesse Hicks has added two players off the Chargers basketball team to his wide receiving corps in Bryant Shelton and Jacquez Jackson.
Oct. 04 @ Spalding Jaguars- The Knights will face the Spalding Jaguars in their first sub-region game of the year, coming off a bye week. This season the Knights will travel to Griffin twice, with their first opponent being the Jags. Last season Upson-Lee defeated the Jaguars by a 31-10 score, as Nick Davis and his Jags finished with a 2-7-1 record.
The Jags return running back Brandon Thomas on offense, and sensational sophomore Brodarius Hamm on defense. The 6’3, 295 pound defensive lineman has already been offered by UGA. In the secondary Spalding returns senior DB Rodney Jackson. Jackson also plays WR on offense.
Oct. 11 @ North Clayton Eagles- The Eagles welcome new head coach James Soza in 2013, after finishing with a 2-8 record in 2012. However, one of those victories came in a 19-14 defeat over the Knights at Matthews Field. Soza comes to North Clayton after being the quarterbacks coach at Southwest Dekalb. Prior to coaching at SWD, Soza was the head coach at Chamblee. Soza is a graduate of Yale University and a native of Tulsa, Okla.
The Eagles return their “do it all” player Chris Weems at running back and defensive back. Expect the Knights to look for some revenge against the Eagles when they travel to Clayton County in October.
Oct. 18 vs. Riverdale Raiders- Last season the Raiders finished with a 7-4 record, advancing to the State Playoffs with a first round loss to Cairo. Last season was the first winning season the Raiders had in six years. Terry Herrod is the new head coach for Riverdale, while Olten Downs took the head coaching job at Creekside.
The Raiders quarterback from last season has transferred to Creekside, following Downs to the Fulton County school. However, the Raiders do return senior TE/WR Rashad Canty. The 6’5, 210 pound Canty has committed to play for Appalachian State University next season. The Raiders also return DE Chinedu Okanya, who has committed to play at Furman University next season.
Oct. 25 @ Griffin Bears- The Knights and the Knights’ fans should be very familiar with the Bears. Last season UL lost a tough physical contest by a 28-14 score at Matthews Field. Head coach Steven Devoursney and the Bears return a plethora of starters from last season’s 9-2 team.
The Bears have five players who currently hold offers from Division I schools, and all five players are juniors, including 6’5, 210 pound TE/WR Christian Owens who has already committed to UGA. The Bears have four receivers who are 6’3 or taller, while 6’1 WR Keyston Fuller has committed to the University of North Carolina. Defensively the Bears are rumored to have switched from an eight man front, to a 3-4 or 3-3-5 defense. The Bears are ranked in the top 10 of nearly every preseason poll, including holding a No. 8 ranking by the AJC. The Bears and Knights will battle in Griffin on the last weekend in October.
Nov. 01 vs. Jonesboro Cardinals- The Knights and the Cardinals were involved in an epic battle last season which saw the Knights suffer a 44-35 loss to the Cardinals at 12 Oaks Stadium. Gone are the two superstars in the Cardinals defense, as Cameron Sutton is now a Tennessee Volunteer and Taurean Ferguson is playing for Vanderbilt.
The Cardinals do return their starting quarterback, Mario Atkinson, from last season, but must replace three starting wide receivers. Defensively the Cards return senior outside linebacker Isaiah Seise (6’3, 210). This game will be on UL’s Senior Night.
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