Fans will have a chance to witness history tonight in Zebulon. For the first time ever, the Upson-Lee Knights will take on Pike County in a regular season football game. It seems hard to believe that two schools 20 minutes from each other have never played in a high school football game, but after 20 years, they are facing off for the first time on the gridiron.
The Pirates finished 5-5 last season, after starting the season 4-1 through the first five games. Both teams are coming off losses in a scrimmage game, even though scores from those types of games can be misleading. The Pirates scrimmaged Spalding, a team which Upson-Lee will play this season, and UL scrimmaged Lamar County, a team which Pike County will play in 2012. With these two schools so close in proximity, and other common denominators, tonight’s game should be a special one.
“I think it is great that we get to play Pike this season,” saidKnights head coach Timmy Watson. “The two communities are so close in so many ways. Many people have relatives from each county and school, not to mention many of the players and fans from each community know each other. I think this is something we should try and do on a regular basis. It would make for a great rivalry, which is something that makes each program better. They have some really tough kids up there. They are a well coached program that is on the rise. I think this could be a rivalry which could last a long time. It’s just a great thing.”
When the Knights hit the field tonight, they can expect to see an offense that is somewhat similar to the one which they run.
“They like to run some of the outside zone runs with some zone options,” said UL defensive coordinator Steve Chafin. “They have a really good running back in the Oglseby kid (#2 Artez Oglesby). He runs behind his pads really well, and we will have to play well to keep him in check.”
When the Knights take the field offensively, they can expect to see the Pirates in an eight-man front, and they usually play cover 3 or cover 1 zone defense in the secondary, a defense which the Knights are familiar with.
“We have played teams in the past which play with an eight-man front,” said Watson. “They are pretty big on that side of the ball, and they have an inside linebacker (#34 Jess Devoursney) who can really hit and runs well to the football. We will have to execute on offense and take care of the football to be successful Friday night.
“We need to come out playing fast and play at a high intensity level,” stated Watson. “Offensively we need to concentrate on ball security and play physical. Defensively we need to make sure our alignments are correct, and we have to make tackles. If we can do these things, we have a good chance to drive back to Thomaston Friday night with some smiles on our faces.”
The Knights and the Pirates will do something which graduates of both schools over the past 20 years wish could have happened a lot sooner, when they square off tonight in the 2012 season opener in Zebulon. Kickoff is slated for 8 p.m.