Upson Lee Knights (4-1, 1-1) vs Perry Panthers (1-5, 0-2)
When: Tonight, 7:30 p.m.
Where: Matthews Field
2014 Record: 1-9
Last Meeting: Upson Lee 42, Perry 14
Series Record: Upson Lee leads 1-0
Head Coaches: UL- Tommy Parks (11-4 in 2nd year at UL, 65-58 in 12th year overall) PHS- Carl Dixon (1st season as head coach)
Key Players: #42 LB-Cole Lavender, (Sr) (6’4, 210) 2nd Team All-Region in 2014
#54 OL-Ashton Strange, (Sr.) (5’11, 240) All-Region Honorable Mention in 2014
#10 DB-Jamir Johnson, (Sr.) (6’0, 185) All-Region Honorable Mention in 2014
#3 RB-Jimoreus King-Jolly, (Sr.) (5’10, 180)
#2 QB/RB- Chris Stewart, (Sr.) (5’11, 170)
After a tough loss on the road last week in Laurens County, the Upson Lee Knights (4-1, 1-1) return to Matthew’s Field to host the Perry Panthers (1-5, 0-2) for their 2015 Homecoming Game.
Homecoming week is always a week full of excitement for the students and the community, with parades, bonfires, and pep rallies. However according to Upson Lee Head Coach Tommy Parks, the Knights football team will try to stay focused on the task at hand.
“Homecoming week is fun for the school and it’s always good to have alumni come back,” said Parks. “With Homecoming can also come distractions, but we are focused on winning a big region football game. We can’t get caught up with everything that comes along with Homecoming.”
This season has been another season full of hopes and disappointments for the Panthers from Perry. After losing their first two games of the season, the Panthers went on the road to Montezuma and defeated Macon County by a 34-33 score. At the time Macon County (3-2) was ranked No. 4 in the state in class 2A.
Since their big upset victory over the Bulldogs, the Panthers have lost three straight games, losing to Brooks County 34-7, Mary Persons 42-14 and last week to Howard 19-13.
After a season without an identity in 2014, Perry decided to part ways with coach Eric Soliday, and promoted within the system, hiring first time head coach Carl Dixon. Last season the Panthers struggled mightily on the offensive side of the ball, unable to decide if they were a spread team or a power running team. This season, the decision has been made, via the Wing-T offense.
The Wing-T offense is something that the Knights have not seen this season, and may not have seen for quite a while. According to Parks, the Wing-T is something that can be hard to duplicate in practice.
“They will run the Wing-T offense and that’s something we haven’t seen since I’ve been here at Upson Lee,” said Parks. “They have a really athletic quarterback and they have really improved offensively since last season. Stopping them will be a challenge for our defense.”
In some of their losses, the Panthers have been on the cusp of victory. Against Mary Persons two weeks ago, the Panthers went to the locker room at halftime in a 7-7 tie with the No. 4 state ranked Bulldogs. However, they were outscored 34-7 in the second half, losing 42-14.
The Panthers traveled to Fort Valley in week two, facing the No. 7 state ranked (class 3A) Trojans from Peach County. The Panthers suffered a 13-7 loss, but hung tough with the Trojans. Last week, Perry hosted Howard (5-1), and gave the Huskies all they could handle, ultimately falling 19-13.
The Knights and the Panthers will kickoff tonight at Matthews Field. Game time for Homecoming 2015 is slated for 7:30 p.m.
In other games around Region 2, the Veterans Warhawks will host the West Laurens Blue Raiders. The Raiders hung on to beat Upson Lee last week by a 33-28 score, but will be without two starters on their defensive line, as they are dealing with concussions. Veterans went into Milledgeville last week and knocked off Baldwin by a 27-7 score. Baldwin is a on a much needed bye this week, as they too are dealing with numerous injuries, some of those season ending injuries.
Mary Persons is coming off of their bye week and they will head to Macon to take on the Howard Huskies. Last season Mary Persons dominated Howard in Forsyth, but the much improved Huskies have already clinched their first .500 season in school history in 2015.
Wes McCard can be contacted at 706-647-5414 or on Twitter @WesMc21.