The phrase trap game has become a favorite cliche of sorts in recent years throughout sports.
Coaches, fans and media like to toss out that phrase when a team at the top of the standings faces a lesser -- but not overmatched -- opponent the week before a crucial contest.
But for the Mary Persons and Veterans football teams, the phrase fits perfectly. Both unbeaten in GHSA Region 2-AAAA play, the teams each has one opponent left to play before a likely region championship game Nov. 1 in Forsyth.
The teams Mary Persons and Veterans face Friday are both fighting for playoff position. Hence the trap game alert.
West Laurens makes me feel plenty nervous, Veterans head coach David Bruce said in reference to the Warhawks Friday night opponent. They have been in every game. Things just havent gone their way.
Mary Persons (7-0, 4-0 GHSA Region 2-AAAA) and Veterans (4-0, 4-3) have opened up a two-game lead in the region. With just three games remaining, the teams are on the cusp of clinching playoff spots. But both teams want to enter that Nov. 1 showdown unbeaten, and neither team wants to put a likely first-round home playoff game in jeopardy.
The philosophy we have taken as a team is a 1-0 philosophy, Mary Persons head coach Brian Nelson said. We just want to be 1-0 every Friday night, to not look back or to look ahead.
A road trip to Baldwin, a team with a deep postseason history, awaits Mary Persons. Its perhaps less of a trap game and more of a true test for the Bulldogs, who are looking for their first region title since 1997.
Baldwin (3-4, 2-2) is in the middle of a battle just to get into the playoffs. Led by quarterback Tajhea Chambers, who needed just six weeks to break the 1,000-yard passing mark, and running back Kentavious Thomas, who is within range of the 1,000-yard rushing mark, the Braves entered the week tied with Perry and Westside for third in the region. And while they will end the week no worse than in a tie for the fourth and final playoff spot, a win over Mary Persons could mean a lot when it comes time for playoff seeding.
They have tremendous athletes, and their quarterback and running back are really good football players, Nelson said. They also play hard. That combination is enough to knock anybody off.
West Laurens (2-5, 1-3) needs a win Friday to maintain any realistic hopes of earning a playoff spot.
That 2-5 record is deceiving, Bruce said. Theyre well-coached, and they play hard. They had some plays not go their way. Dont be fooled by their record.
Mary Persons travels Nov. 9 to West Laurens to close the regular season, while Veterans hosts Baldwin that same night. Veterans, which is in its fourth season of varsity play, is looking for its first trip to the playoffs and its first winning record.
Like West Laurens, Rutland sits at 1-3 in region play and is in need of a victory to maintain playoff hopes. The Hurricanes (4-3 overall) host Howard, which is winless in region play, at the Ed DeFore Sports Complex.