Upson-Lee travels Friday night to take on defending GHSA Region 2-AAAA region champion West Laurens, and the Knights are in a familiar situation at 4-0, the same record they had last year heading into the West Laurens game.
That game ended in a tight battle that the Knights lost 28-24.
“Obviously, West Laurens was our region champ last year, and they have a lot of guys back. (Head coach Stacy) Nobles and those guys do a great job over there,” Upson-Lee head coach Tommy Parks said. “So it is going to be an interesting week.”
The Raiders are 4-1 with their lone loss coming to Westside. West Laurens is coming off of a region-opening 21-14 victory over Howard. The Raiders will look to carry that momentum into Friday night’s showdown.
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“Upson-Lee is a very good football team. They are coming in with a lot of confidence. They are at 4-0,” Nobles said. “They have a really good running game, with a really good running back. They are solid in all aspects offensively and defensively.”
Both teams are focused on the turnover battle as it likely will be one of the keys to the game. Both teams have used this week to work on improving themselves with limiting mistakes.
“One thing we have got to correct is our turnovers and our special teams play. For the last few weeks, we have had some breakdowns on special teams,” Parks said “And one of the important things to me on the special teams side is field position, hopefully, having a short field for our offense and a long field for their offense.”
West Laurens has had six turnovers the past two games after having no turnovers the first three games.
“We are just focusing on what we can do to not beat ourselves,” Nobles said. “We cannot do that against these good football teams. It almost cost against a really good Howard team the other night. We just got to continue take care of what we are capable of doing and get ready for another tough game this Friday night.”
This game is the next step in region play, and both teams are focused on getting to the postseason. Upson-Lee’s seniors have not played in the postseason, and Parks, who is in his second year with the team, is looking to change that.
“(Our goal) is getting into postseason play, basically just trying to take it one game at a time and one week at a time,” Parks said.
West Laurens’ region title last year was its first since 1996 and second overall.
The Raiders have played three straight games on the road, and Nobles expects for the atmosphere to be “electric,” much like it was last year at Upson-Lee.
“We snuck up on some folks. Not many people gave us a chance to do what we did last year, and our kids proved a lot of folks wrong. We have been harping on that all year long. Our kids know we are not sneaking up on anybody,” Nobles said. “We’ve got to bring our best every week. We no longer go on the field hoping to win we go on the field expecting to win.”