The last time the Upson-Lee Knights were on a football field facing an opponent, things did not go well. It was back last fall in the first round of the playoffs when the Knights’ 2011 season ended with a 42-3 loss to Lovejoy. Lovejoy would eventually wind up the State Runner-Up, after losing to Tucker High School in the State Championship Game.
It was Franklin Stephens who was at the helm of the Tucker Tigers when they won the state title last season, but now he is the head coach of the Lamar County Trojans, who also advanced deep into the playoffs last season. The Trojans lost to Bleckley County in the Elite Eight last season by a 35-33 score in four overtimes. The match-up tonight between the two playoff teams should make for an interesting game, even if it is of the scrimmage variety.
“This is an important game for us,” said UL head coach Tommy Watson. “The outcome of the game is not important at all, but what is important is for us to get each player on film so we can further evaluate them. This game will be a measuring stick to see where we are at and to see what we need to improve on before August 31. We just want to play well, and come out injury free. The score of the game makes no difference to us.”
The injury bug has already bitten the Knights this summer, although none of the injuries are of the serious variety. Junior running back Sontrell Perry and senior linebacker Marcus Bussey are battling ankle injuries, and new defensive line transfer Chris Duncan is getting over a quadriceps strain. All three players will be out in tonight’s game, but all three are expected to be ready before the Aug. 31 season opener at Pike County.
When the Knights’ offense takes the field tonight, they can expect to see a very familiar defense. The Trojans are expected to run a 3-3-5 stack linebacker defense, which is what they saw last season when playing Harris County, Starr’s Mill, and Whitewater. The Trojans allowed only 13 points per game last season, although stud defensive lineman Shaq Walker has graduated and is now playing at Colorado State University.
The Knights’ defense, which allowed 17 points per game, will see the Trojans’ Wing-T offensive look, which Franklin used to lead the Tucker Tigers to a state title a season ago. The Trojans’ backfield is expected to be one of the best in all of AA football. Brothers Lance (#14, QB) and Lawrence (#5, RB) Austin have already received scholarship offers from South Carolina, even though they are just juniors. Senior running back Antwan Wallace (#4) also returns to the Trojans back field.
Those at the game can expect to see the starters from each team in for a few series, and they will also see the back-up players, junior varsity players, and ninth grade players. Kick-off for the game is slated at 7:30 p.m.
Here is a list of the other scrimmage games of Knights’ opponents: Griffin @ Newnan, Jonesboro @ Thomas County-Central, Stockbridge vs. Luella, North Clayton @ Drew, Pike County @ Spalding, Eagle’s Landing vs. Union Grove, and Central-Macon vs. Westover. Riverdale will travel to play Carver-Atlanta on Aug. 24 in their scrimmage game.