The Upson-Lee Knights took to the grid iron against an opponent for the first time in 2012 last Friday night, when they traveled to Barnesville to play the Trojans from Lamar County in a scrimmage game. The Trojans, who are ranked No. 5 in in the AA pre-season polls, were playing their first game under new head coach Franklin Stephens. While the final tally was 48-3 in favor of the Trojans, Knights head coach Tommy Watson got what he wanted, which was every player on the team on the field.
There was much anticipation to see these two playoff teams from last season go head to head. The Trojans’ backfield showed why they are one the best in all of AA football, with nice performances from brothers Lance and Lawrence Austin. The Knights seemed a little more reserved in their play calling than the Trojans, and also played three times as many players, which was what Watson said was planned going into the game.
“We got 83 players on the field,” said Watson. “We accomplished our goal of getting players on film to evaluate them. I had talked to Coach Stephens earlier in the week and told him we planned on playing our junior varsity and ninth grade teams along with playing our varsity some in the first and second quarters. He on the other hand, did not have the players to sub in and out until the fourth quarter, which left our back up and junior varsity players going against their varsity starters, which was actually a good experience for them. I know some people out there may be worried about such a lopsided score, but if this were a real game, Corey Moss would have had the ball in his hands a lot more than he did, and he would have had it in his hands from the start of the game. We know Corey can play. We wanted to see what some of our other players can do, and I feel we did that tonight.
“People can look at the ugly 48-3 score of the game and make their own assumptions, but the fact of the matter is, we are not worried about the score of a scrimmage game. Was I happy we only scored three points? No. Was I happy we gave up 48 points? No, but we did some good things out there. I thought our sophomore running back K.D. Pennyman asserted himself as a possible starter for us, which is a good thing. I am however a little worried about our perimeter players offensively and defensively,” said Watson. “Losing four starters from a season ago in the secondary did not help our cause, but we will go to work on those things we did a bad job of, such as tackling and being in the right position defensively, on Monday. We played 19 different kids on defense in the first half of the game, which gives us a better understanding of what we need to work on with certain players.”
The Knights had their chances to put the pressure on the Trojans early in the game. After Tyler Stewart kicked off to start the game, the Trojans fumbled on the return. However, the Knights offense stalled inside the 25 yard line, something that happened to the offense three times in the first quarter.
All-Region running back Lawrence Austin scored two rushing touchdowns in the first quarter, giving the Trojans a 13-0 lead. The Trojans would also score on one of the more stranger plays in football. Upson-Lee running back Kelton Raines took a hand off for a run up the middle. The Trojans stopped him for a gain of a couple yards, but out of the pile came a Trojan defensive lineman with the football. The Trojans’ lineman stripped the ball from Raines and ran into the end zone untouched.
In the second quarter the Knights began to rotate players in and out. Junior back up Justin Shaw had a nice showin, making some nice runs and completing some passes. “I thought Justin showed he is ready to play quarterback at the varsity level,” said Watson.
The Knights’ lone three points came on a 35-yard field goal by senior kicker Hunter Lawson. This is the first year playing football for Lawson, who connected on the field goal in his first ever attempt.
The Knights varsity back ups and junior varsity played in the third quarter against most of the Trojans varsity starters, and played them to a 7-3 score in the third quarter. In the fourth quarter the Knights played all of their ninth grade players against the Trojans junior varsity team, a quarter which the Trojans scored three more touchdowns.
The Knights now have nine more practices to prepare for their season opener and first ever match up with the Pike County Pirates on August 31.