Upson Lee Knights (6-2) vs. Osborne Cardinals (2-5)
When: Tonight (7:30 p.m.)
Where: Matthews Field
2014 Record: 2-8
Last Meeting: Upson Lee 14, Osborne 9 (2014)
Series Record: Upson Lee leads 1-0
Head Coaches: UL- Tommy Parks (13-5 in 2nd year at UL, 67-59 overall in 12th season) OHS- Troy Jones (9-48 at Osborne)
Key Players: #15 QB-Deon Alexander, (Jr.) (6’3, 195)
#5 WR/DB-Ayo Ashi, (Sr.) (5’9, 165)
#58 OL/DL-Demarco Ruffin, (Sr.) (6’2, 295)
#22 WR-Adrian Alston-Thompsoon, (Sr.) (6’5, 185)
#44 RB-Deshawn Jenkins, (Sr.) (5’4, 165)
Last Friday night was one that will go down in history for Upson Lee. The Knights lost a 24 point lead late in the fourth quarter, only to come back and defeat Howard 41-40 in double overtime. That victory clinched a playoff spot for Upson Lee. Tonight, Upson Lee will be in a little different situation, playing a game which means nothing as far as improving their seeding for the post season.
However, even playing a non-region game in week nine of the season can have it benefits according to Knights Coach Tommy Parks.
“We clinched a spot in the post season last week, but tonight’s game is also a big game for us,” said Parks. “We played three non-region games to start the season, and they were big games for us, so this game is no different. We want to take this opportunity to get better, as we head into a big game against Veterans next week. This will be Osborne’s last game of the season, so I fully expect them to come in here fired up and ready to play.”
The Cardinals from Marietta are in the biggest classification in the GHSA, and they will be the first ever class 6A school to play at Matthews Field. Berkmar, who is also in class 6A, played the Knights in Thomaston back in 2008, but at the time they were a class 5A school. On that night, Berkmar defeated Upson Lee by a 17-7 score.
The Cardinals however, have not had a winning season since 1994, and because of their lack of success, the last two seasons Osborne has played a non-region schedule. This gives them the ability to schedule any team they want, with the hopes that they can try and build a winning tradition, but doing so also forfeits their chances at the state playoffs. Around this area, Crawford County is in the second year of playing a non-region schedule. The Eagles had not won a game in three years before moving to a non-region schedule, this season they have built up their program and have won eight games.
Osborne started the 2015 season losers of five games in a row, but they have won their last two games, defeating Johnson-Gainesville 33-6 and Cross Keys 69-3. Cross Keys and Johnson-Gainesville have a combined record of 2-11. According to Parks, Osborne has the ability to score points.
“They have some very athletic kids,” said Parks. “They have a good size quarterback and a big wide receiver. They have a lot of athletes and they try to find space for them. They run multiple schemes offensively, so we have to be ready for just about anything.”
Last season the Knights struggled up in Marietta against the Cardinals, pulling out a 14-9 victory in a torrential down pour. Upson Lee and the Cardinals will square off at Matthews Field tonight at 7:30 p.m. Senior Night festivities will take place prior to kickoff.
“I can’t say enough good things about this senior class,” said Parks. “These guys have conformed to a new coaching staff and a new way of doing things. This will be the first senior class since 2007 to finish their four years of high school with a winning record. I’ve enjoyed coaching these guys and want nothing more than to send them out in style.”
Wes McCard can be contacted at 706-647-5414 or on Twitter @WesMc21.