Upson Lee Knights @ Northeast Macon Raiders
When: Sept. 11
Where: Thompson Stadium (Macon, GA)
Last Season: UL (7-3), NE (3-7)
Last Meeting: UL 44, NE 6 (2014)
Head Coaches: UL- Tommy Parks 7-3 @ UL in 2nd year (61-57 over all in 12th season), NE- Bruce Mullen 61-54 in 12th season @ NE (61-54 overall in 12th season)
Key Raiders: #12 DB- Phillip Thomas, Jr (5’7, 155), #36 OL/DL- Zarnarion Howard, Sr (6’, 215), #55 OL/DL- D.J. Jones, Sr. (6’, 235)
Last season the Knights squared off with the Raiders from Northeast Macon High School for the first time in history. After four quarters of play, Upson Lee had easily cruised to a 44-6 thumping over the Class AA Raiders.
This season, the Knights will travel to Macon to face the Raiders at Thompson Stadium. The Raiders must replace their leading passer and leading rusher from last season, as season which saw them finish with a 3-7 record.
On paper, there are some similarities between these two teams. The Raiders are trying to get back to prominence and become perennial playoff contenders, just like the Knights. Raiders head coach Bruce Mullen enters his 12th year of coaching, just like UL’s Tommy Parks. Parks has an overall record of 61-57, while Mullen’s record is nearly identical at 61-54.
Last year at Matthews Field, the Knights jumped all over the Raiders early, stifling Northeast with defensive pressure, and pounding the ball right at them with running back Kenderius Pennyman. In the 44-6 blowout, Pennyman ran for 130 yards and three touchdowns, but Pennyman has moved on and UL will need to find a replacement.
As a sophomore last season, junior quarterback Kalen Puckett passed for 94 yards and a touchdown, while also rushing for a score in the third quarter. Kendarious “Scoop” Traylor returns this season to the Knights after catching two passes for 43 yards and a score last season against the Raiders.
In the game last season, the Knights defense forced four turnovers, tying a school record with four interceptions in a single game. Antonio Grantling returned an interception for a score last season, but once again UL will need to find a replacement in the secondary for the 2015 graduate.
The Knights allowed just 95 yards of total offense in the game last year, while compiling nearly 300 yards of offense themselves. The victory over the Raiders last season was Upson Lee’s 125th victory in school history and it was the second game in a row in which UL scored over 40 points.
The Raiders have a few pieces returning this season which contributed in their 2014 season. Running back Jerome Grayer rushed 40 times for 91 yards, while receiver Chris Spencer caught 22 balls for 309 yards and four touchdowns.
Upson Lee should be heavily favored in this match-up, but in high school football games, especially road games, it’s never easy to predict the outcome.
Check out Tuesday’s edition of The Times for a look at week three and the Northside-Columbus Patriots.
Wes McCard can be contacted at 706-647-5414 or on Twitter @WesMc21.