After a tough, disappointing loss to Pike County to start the 2012 season, the Upson-Lee Knights will play their first home game of the season tonight against the Stockbridge Tigers, another team which opened the 2012 season with a loss.
Last Saturday the Tigers squared off with M.L. King, the No. 4 ranked team in AAAAA, according to the Associated Press, and fell 23-0. Neither ULHS nor SHS will want to start 2012 off with an 0-2 record, and a tough week of practice have the Knights ready for the visiting Tigers.
“It’s been a tough week around here,” said Knights head coach Tommy Watson. “Losing to Pike County is not acceptable, and it’s been a long week for everyone involved in the Upson-Lee football program. We have had some hard practices this week, and hopefully the kids will respond on Friday night.”
The Knights and Tigers are no strangers to each other; the two teams last met in 2007, with UL coming out on top with a 35-28 victory. The Tigers are a slightly different type of team from the last Stockbridge the Knights faced, although according to Watson, they still have the great athletes which they have every year.
“They are a well-coached team, and they are as athletic as anyone we will play this season,” said Watson. “They run the triple option offense, similar to the one Georgia Tech likes to run. They are extremely fast, and like to get to the edge, forcing us to make tackles in open space. We really have to execute and tackle well Friday night. Don’t be fooled by their 23-0 loss last week to M.L. King, they went up against one of the best teams in the state.”
Stockbridge is loaded with experienced players from their nine-win season a year ago. In the backfield the Knights will have to be on the lookout for (#1) junior FB Malik Brown and (#3) junior RB Matreon Thomas. Defensively the Tigers like to run a 4-3 defense, and (#9) sophomore DE Titus Davis is a key member of the Tigers defensive line.
“They move to the football really well defensively,” said Watson. “They have athletes all over the field. Their secondary, line backers, and defensive line all move well. We need to take care of the football, control the tempo offensively, and let sustained offensive drives be our best defense. We want their offense to spend as much time on the sidelines as possible.”
The Knights and the Tigers will each try to avoid an 0-2 record early in 2012. Kick0ff for tonight’s game is slated for 7:30 p.m.