Upson Lee Knights (8-2) @ Liberty County Panthers (7-3)
When: Tonight, 7:30 p.m.
Where: Hinesville, GA (3216 East Oglethorpe HWY)
Record: UL (8-2, 4-2), LC (7-3, 3-1)
Head Coaches: UL- Tommy Parks (15-5 in 2nd season at UL, 69-59 in 12th season overall), LC- Kirk Warner (63-81 in 14th season overall and at Liberty County)
Key Liberty County Players-
#4 FS/WR/RB/QB Richerd Lecounte, Jr (6’1, 185)- Has 18 Division I offers and a top ranked junior in the state
#8 RB Jacquez Williams, Sr (6’3, 205)- Committed to Wake Forest as a WR
#3 QB Jaalon Frazier, Jr (6’1, 180)- has passed for over 1,300 yards this season
#6 RB/DB Elisha Polite, Jr (5’8, 170)
#7 LB/DE Jacaari Roberts, Sr (6’2, 235)
#55 LB/DE Jeremiah Gilbert, Sr (6’, 235)
People may call it the post season, the playoffs, the tournament, or the “Big Dance.” Only once in the past nine years have the Knights needed their dancing shoes for post-season play. That came in 2011, when Upson Lee suffered a 42-3 loss in the first round to the eventual State Runner-Up, Lovejoy.
However, under Coach Tommy Parks in his second season with Upson Lee, the Knights have finished with an 8-2 regular season record, a season which saw them score 32 points per game, and earn the No.3 seed from Region 2 in the AAAA State Playoffs. Since Parks, a Thomaston native, took over last season, Upson Lee has a record of 15-5.
“First and foremost it’s great to be in a community that supports high school athletics,” Parks said. “Not only does the community support the football team, but they support the band, cheerleaders, and all of the sports that we have here at Upson Lee. Last week down in Perry, it was great to so many fans turn out for the game. They really come out to support us.
“For instance, when I got back in town and took this job and we had our youth camp over the summer, we were hoping to have about 50 kids come out, instead we had over 100. We just really appreciate all of the support the community has given us this season, and we hope they will pack up and hit the road with us Friday night for our playoff game.”
For the dedicated fans making the trip, a distance of 211 miles, should not be a problem. Their destination is Hinesville, where Upson Lee will take on the No. 2 seed from Region 3, the Liberty County Panthers (7-3). This will be the first ever match-up between Upson Lee and Liberty County, and it will be the first match-up between Upson Lee and any team from Region 3.
“They are an extremely athletic football team,” Parks said. “They remind me a little bit of Howard in how they run their offense. They have two Division I type guys that can do just about everything. The Lecounte kid pretty much does about everything.”
The players Parks is referring to are junior No. 4 Richard Lecounte and senior No. 8 Jacquez Williams. Lecounte (6’1, 180) is one of the top juniors in all of the state. Ohio State, Georgia, Clemson, Auburn, and Florida are among the 18 collegiate offers he has already received. Lecounte starts at safety for the Panthers on defense, and also returns kicks. Offensively he has lined up at wide receiver, running back, and even quarterback.
Jacquez Williams (6’3, 205) is a running back who has committed to Wake Forest as a wide receiver. Williams has rushed for over 900 yards this season, and also is one of the best receivers on the team.
In other Region 2 playoff games, Mary Persons (10-0) will host Wayne County (3-7) at Dan Pitts Stadium in Forsyth, while West Laurens (8-2) welcomes in Burke County (7-3). Veterans (4-6), who crept into the playoffs thanks to Howard’s loss to Baldwin last week, will travel to face the Region 3 Champions, the Thomson Bulldogs (9-1).
Kickoff for the Knights and Panthers playoff game is slated for 7:30 p.m. The winner of the game will face the winner Columbia (5-5) and No. 2 state ranked Cartersville (10-0) in round two of the playoffs.
Wes McCard can be contacted at 706-647-5414 or on Twitter @WesMc21.