There is no way around it, last Friday’s 19-14 defeat to North Clayton put the Knights’ backs against the wall when it comes to vying for a top four spot in the Region 4 cross over games in week 10. Without another victory in the sub-region, the Knights will need help from Spalding next week when they play North Clayton. A victory in tonight’s game with the Riverdale Raiders at Southern Crescent Stadium, and the Knights are right back in the thick of things.
The Raiders enter the contest tonight coming off of a 21-0 victory over Spalding last Thursday, and have already defeated North Clayton in sub-region play, although losing to Griffin 35-14 two weeks ago. The Knights, who had previously won three games in a row, are traveling on the road tonight for the first time in a month, knowing that only they are to blame for last week’s loss, and looking to bounce back against the Raiders tonight.
“We made some mistakes last week,” said Knights head coach Tommy Watson. “We have to move past that game and concentrate on what we can control, and that is the game with Riverdale this Friday night. The guys have been out of school this week for Fall Break, and we have been able to have some good early morning practices. We have to deal with the position we are in. We have some tough games coming ahead, but we just have to take it one game at a time. As a team we fully understand the importance of each and every game from here on out.”
The Knights and Raiders have a little history. It was Upson-Lee’s first game in school history which they won over Riverdale in overtime back in 1992. The two teams have not faced each other in over a decade, but tonight each will be fighting for their potential playoff lives.
The Raiders were previously ranked No. 9 in the state by the AJC a few weeks ago, but lost that ranking after falling to Dutchtown 38-0 the following week. A pass heavy team, the Raiders are sure to challenge the Knights defense tonight.
“They have some of the biggest skill players we have seen all year,” said Watson. “They have several wide outs that are 6’3” or 6’4”. They also have two different quarterbacks that like to throw it a lot. They will try and spread us out and get the ball down the field to the big receivers. We are going to have to get pressure on the quarterback Friday night, and we need be physical with them at the line of scrimmage.”
Defensively the Raiders play a “50” or five man front with two linebackers. One of those linebackers is #33 senior Troy Wyche (6’1, 219). Wyche, who is the leader of the Raiders defense, has received offers from some Big 10 schools, but has seemed interested mostly in the University of Indiana.
“He’s is a really good linebacker,” said Watson.”He is big, fast, and pretty physical, as is the rest of their defense. He runs to the ball well, and wraps up with his tackles. He is one of the better football tacklers we have seen this year.”
The Raiders more than likely will stack the box with eight players and force the Knights to beat them through the air, taking away the Knights’ best weapon, Corey Moss and his legs. Moss was held to a season low 65 yards last week, but is only 50 yards away from moving into fifth place on the Upson-Lee all-time career rushing list. Moss currently has 2,042 yards rushing, just behind Jesse Garmon who accumulated 2,091 yards rushing in his career. Moss has a legitimate chance to move into fourth place, which is held by Corderro Montgomery with 2,269 yards for his career. Alex Collier leads the record books with 3,665 yards rushing.
The Knights and the Raiders will battle it out in an all important match-up tonight at Southern Crescent Stadium in Riverdale. Kick-off is slated for 7:30 p.m.