BARNESVILLE -- Franklin Stephens expects his team to face challenges from GHSA Region 4-AA opponents.
But those teams aren’t the only ones the Lamar County head coach wants his team to compete against.
Stephens has challenged his Trojans, who are ranked third in the Georgia Sportswriters Association Class AA poll, to be better than they were a year ago when they played in the state semifinals for the first time.
“Our goal is to simply grow as much as we did from game one to game 11 last year,” Stephens said.
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The growth from year-to-year was evident Friday night.
The Trojans (4-0, 1-0 Region 4-AA) rolled to a 40-14 win over Taylor County on Friday one year after they beat the Vikings by 15. It was the region opener for both teams.
“We started the season slow last year,” senior Lance Austin said. “We just have to get it in gear and get those region games rolling and play better ball.”
Austin rushed for 141 yards and three touchdowns and passed 94 for yards -- all of which went to his future Georgia Tech teammate Quay Searcy. The Trojans haven’t lost a regular-season game in 35 months, dating back to a loss to Greene County in 2010.
The Vikings (2-2, 0-1) entered the contest with dominant wins in their past two games.
The Trojans ended that run with a fast start. None of their first five drives lasted more than six plays.
Austin scored on runs of 35 and 21 yards, respectively, and Quentin Frazer added a 27-yard touchdown run. Juan Tucker opened the scoring with a 1-yard plunge midway through the first quarter after Austin found Searcy on a 41-yard pass.
The Trojans scored on five of their six first-half possessions -- the one possession that didn’t result in a score came when they downed the ball to end the first half.
Austin added a 47-yard touchdown run on the opening drive of the third quarter, and Tyler Scandrett made two field goals.
James Whiteman had a hand in both of the Vikings’ touchdowns, passing for a 9-yard touchdown to Jay Bloodser with 32 seconds in the first half and rushed for a 5-yard score in the fourth quarter.
Lamar County faces one of its toughest region tests Friday in Macon against Northeast, which is also undefeated.
“They have some athletes out there; you know they’re going to be a great ball team,” Austin said. “We just got to come out and do the little things and execute and play good ball.”