November 8 of last year was the last time the Upson-Lee Knights competed against another team on the football field. On that night, they suffered a 31-7 loss to the Stockbridge Tigers at Tiger Stadium. Tonight, Upson-Lee will get their first chance of 2014 to compete against another team. This game will not mean nearly as much as the Stockbridge game last season, but to some degree it may forecast a little of what fans can expect from the Knights in 2014.
The Knights will take on the Tigers from Troup County High School in their annual preseason scrimmage game at Matthews Field. Troup County is coming off of a 6-5 season, which saw them advance to the first round of the playoffs where they lost 26-22. They are a team which UL head coach Tommy Parks is familiar with, coaching nearby at Harris County last season.
“We are excited about the chance to line up against someone else other than ourselves,” said Parks. “We have been in contact with the coaches over at Troup and we have went over our plans for the game. We are not going to keep a score, but in the first half we will play all special teams live and in color. This is an important game for us to evaluate our players and see who is ready to compete for Upson-Lee football.”
The last time the Knights and Tigers squared off was in 2003, when Troup County defeated Upson-Lee by a 23-20 score. In 2002, Upson-Lee defeated Troup County 21-20, and the Knights and Tigers have each won five games in the rivalry over the years.
The last time these two teams played, the Knights were running the split-back veer, while Troup County ran a more conventional offense. Tonight, the Tigers will feature the split-back veer, while the Knights have moved to the more conventional “spread type” offense. Defensively, Parks expect the Knights to see Troup County in a 3-4 defensive front, something they can expect to see from a couple different teams in their region.
The two teams have agreed not to blitz in the game, with each team’s starters playing the first half of the game. The game will consist of 12-minute quarters, but in the fourth quarter there will be a running clock. Fans can expect to see the second string players in the third quarter. In the second half of the game, the ball will be spotted 30 yards for each failed possession and kick-offs will be spotted at the 20-yard line. In the fourth quarter, the Knights will play many of their junior varsity and ninth grade players.
This will not be the first time Coach Parks has been in action on Matthews Field. He played for R.E. Lee in high school, and he coached at Matthews Field when he was the head coach at Harris County. However, this will be the first time Coach Parks will be on the home sideline with the headphones.
“I would not say I am nervous, but I am anxious,” says Parks. “There is an anticipation to be on the sidelines of Matthews Field. It’s a great setting for a football game. Athletic Director Stephen Boyd has done a great job of creating an awesome experience for players and fans. He has put in a new sound system, and will have some other surprises at Matthews Field. Coach Majors and his guys have the field looking immaculate, and we are just excited about getting out there. I hope the community is just as excited as we are, and they show up to support the Upson-Lee Knights.”
Kick-off for the scrimmage game is slated for 7:30 p.m.