Upson-Lee fans may want to bring a copy of their Thomaston Times Football Edition to the game tonight, and keep the 2013 roster with uniform number handy. There will be some players in key roles tonight which might not have seen much playing time so far in 2013.
One reason is the fact that the Knights have five players suspended for tonight’s game after a skirmish in last week’s loss to Eagles Landing. Starting line backer Jacob Gross, starting wide receivers O’Qualon Harris and Keanan Hutchins, starting offensive lineman Dravian Ivey, and back-up quarterback Matt Crews have all been suspended by the GHSA. The other reason is the fact that the Knights have four defensive starters out with injuries. Starting cornerback Shamare Bailey, starting outside linebacker Chris Price, and linebackers Quay Reviere and Brodrick Durrah are all sidelined with injuries.
“We are beat up”, said Knights head coach Tommy Watson. “I’ve been coaching high school football for 11 years here at Upson-Lee, and this is the most short-handed I have ever seen any team. We have to come together and patch things up collectively as a team. We have a bye week coming up, so that will help some as far as getting some guys back, but tonight we have a challenge ahead of us. We just have to overcome it, and we need guys to step up.”
The Knights will turn to Markel Manuel to replace Jacob Gross at the middle linebacker position. Manuel has played some middle linebacker and played some at outside linebacker this season. One bright spot for the Knights is the return of Toby Fuentes. The senior missed last week’s game after suffering a concussion in the game versus Stockbridge. Fuentes will play both receiver and in the secondary, filling in for Harris and Hutchins on offense and Bailey on defense. Dravian Ivey was named to the All-Region Team last season, but will miss this week’s game due to suspension. UL seniors Malik Buckle and Andrew Moore will fill the void on the offensive line. In all, the Knights have nine players either injured or suspended.
The Central Macon Chargers come to Matthews Field with a 0-3 record after losing last week 55-24 to the Rutland Hurricanes. The Chargers have also lost games to Northeast Macon (7-0) and Westside-Macon (50-13) in the first two weeks of the season. Last season the Knights defeated Central-Macon by a 42-21 score. Last season Corey Moss rushed for two touchdowns and threw for two more, including 19-yard strike in the end zone to Fuentes.
The Chargers have shown some glimpses of scoring ability on offense. They return six starters from last season’s offensive unit and six starters on the defensive unit. The Chargers’ offense runs through quarterback Bobby Cummings The dual-threat QB has the ability to hurt opposing defenses with his arm and legs. Last season Jordan Colbert was named to the Macon Telegraph’s All-Middle Georgia Team, but has missed the last two weeks with an injury he suffered in the Chargers 50-13 loss to Westside-Macon. However, the 5’10, 180 pound senior is expected to be ready for tonight’s contest.
“They like to spread teams out offensively,” said Watson. “The give their quarterback the opportunity to run or throw on the perimeter and they have a really good running back. They usually run their offense out of the shotgun and spread out four wide receivers, which is what we saw a lot of last week.”
Defensively, Central Macon plays a 4-3 scheme similar to that of Upson-Lee. Their leading tackler so far in 2013 is 6’3, 270- pound freshman Javius Johnson. The Chargers also have two really good defensive ends in senior Carozio Foster and junior Quint Nash.
“They look a lot like us on defense,” stated Watson. “Hopefully that will work to our benefit since we see it in practice every week.”
The Knights will look to get back on the winning track before having a bye next weekend. Kick off is slated for tonight at 7:30 p.m.