Upson Lee Knights (0-0) vs. Pike County Pirates (0-1)
When: Tonight, 7:30 p.m.
Where: Matthews Field (Thomaston)
Last Week: UL (BYE), PC lost to Lamar Co 30-8
Last Season: UL (7-3), PC (2-8)
Last Meeting: Upson Lee 41, Pike Co 14
Series Record: Upson Lee leads 2-1
Head Coach: Brad Webber (18-25 at PC, 5th season, 18-25 overall entering 5th season)
Key Pike Co. Players: #17 QB/FS Nick Butler, Sr (6’3, 190)
#13 TE/P/K Jacob Fuqua, Sr (6’3, 225)
#2 LB/FB Hunter Hudson, Jr. (6’1, 215)
#20 TE/DE Jaun Woods (6’5, 220)
After watching some high school teams around Georgia start their season two weeks ago, the Upson Lee Knights will finally have their chance to get their 2015 season underway. Last week the Knights had their bye week, and now they will play 10 weeks straight.
While the Knights were on their bye week, the Pirates from Pike County opened their season up with Lamar County, losing to the Trojans by a 30-8 score. However, according to UL Head Coach Tommy Parks, records and previous games can be thrown out the window when the Knights and Pirates play.
“They have a history for playing us pretty well,” said Parks. “Three years ago they beat us up there in double overtime, and the season after that we escaped with a closely contested victory. Last season, we just made a few more explosive plays, which was the difference in the ball game. We are not taking them lightly. They are a well coached team that plays hard, and they will probably have more experience on the field than we will have Friday night.”
Last season when the Knights traveled to Zebulon to open up their season, then sophomore quarterback Kalen Puckett passed for 213 yards and three touchdowns, leading the Knights to a commanding 41-7 victory. O’qualon Harris recorded a career high five catches for 132 yards and two touchdowns. Both players are back this season, Puckett a junior and Harris a senior.
However, the Knights will have to turn to a new slew of running backs in 2015. Kenderius Pennyman led the Knights in rushing last year against Pike County, running for 97 yards and a score. In that same game, Quay Reviere rushed for 57 yards and a score on just five carries. Reviere returns this season to lead the Knights backfield, along with junior Markevious Robinson.
“This game will be the first step for us to reach our goal in 2015,” said Parks. “We have to get better every week and we have got to win some big ball games. We are anxious to see where we are at as a team. Last year I felt like we made a big jump physically, and this season we need to take that same jump mentally. Upson Lee has not had a senior class graduate with a winning record since 2007. This season’s class is currently 15-15, and we want them to end their high school careers as winners and with a playoff run, but to do that we are going to have to win a some big ball games. Last season we won seven ball games, but in key games like the Veterans game, we did not get the job done. This season we need to win those types of games, and it starts with a good performance against Pike County on Friday night.”
In last year’s contest, the Knights racked up 445 yards of offense, while giving up 221 yards of offense to Pike County. The Pirates have a new quarterback and some new running backs this season, and according to Parks, he expects the Pirates to lean heavily on those players Friday night.
“They are pretty big up front and they like to run with power,” said Parks. “They have an athletic quarterback, and a couple of really good running backs that run hard behind their big offensive line. We are going to have to do a good job tackling to keep them from breaking off some big runs.”
Defensively Parks says the Pirates have some big guys up front that can cause teams problems.
“They usually have a three man front defensively,” says Parks. “The have big and very physical guys on their defensive line, and our offensive line is going to have to fire off the ball to contain them. They also have a really good linebacker in No. 2 (Hunter Hudson). He also plays some offense for them in the backfield. He’s a really good football player.”
The Knights will look to get their season started tonight, in what Coach Parks hopes to be a packed out Matthews Field.
“These kids have been working hard and putting in their time and effort for over four months,” said Parks. “Not only have they been dedicated with their time and effort, but their families have too. They are going out there Friday night to represent Upson County and the city of Thomaston. They are here to represent our community, and we hope to see them (the community) there to support us.”
The Knights and Pirates are slated to kickoff at 7:30 p.m. at Matthews Field.
Wes McCard can be contacted at 706-647-5414 or on Twitter @WesMc21.