PERRY — There’s more than one way to tote a pigskin.
When the FPD Vikings invade Perry tonight for a GISA non-region game with fellow unbeaten Westfield, two distinct offensive philosophies will collide with one goal in mind: dominate the ground game.
“Who can stop who. That’s what it comes down to,” FPD offensive coordinator Chad Alligood said. “We’ve got to find the best matchup for us, and (Westfield) will try to find the best matchup for them.”
The overall matchup shapes up as one of the best in Middle Georgia this weekend. According to a GISA coaches poll, FPD and Westfield are the No. 1 and No. 2 teams in the state, respectively. Playing against the backdrop of the Georgia National Fair across I-75 from Arrington Field, the offenses of both FPD and Westfield have the potential to set off their own brand of fireworks.
Operating out of a triple option, the Vikings lead their association’s top classification in points per game (36.5) and rushing offense (284 yards per game). In the wing-T, Westfield leads Class AAA in total offense (353.2) and is second in rushing (277.3).
FPD began dismantling its respected passing attack toward the end of last season, but “got pretty serious about it in the offseason” when Alligood joined the staff, according to head coach Greg Moore. With quarterback Ryan Smith (644 rushing yards, 10 touchdowns) directing traffic and making reads, the Vikings have made the most of their change.
“They were passing 40 times a game here,” Alligood said. “The kids have bought into what we’re doing. Here it’s runs first and throw second right now.”
When these teams met last year, FPD had yet to make the offensive transition. As a result, Gang Green hasn’t faced this version of the Vikings. Westfield has defended other option teams this year. Judging by the fact the Hornets are allowing just 63.5 yards on the ground per game, they’re handling the challenge.
“This is not the first time we’ve faced the option,” Westfield head coach Ronnie Jones said. “It’s just the first time we’ve faced somebody that’s so good at it.”
Meanwhile, behind fullback John Lee (676 yards, 13 touchdowns), Westfield is proving once again that the wing-T is a viable offensive philosophy. This year’s team is averaging better offensive numbers than the one that played for the Class AAA state championship in 2008.
Tonight’s game is generating plenty of interest and scrutiny. Neither coach is shielding players from the exposure. At the same time, region play begins next week so tonight’s result “is not going to be the end of the world for whoever loses,” Jones said.
Added Moore, “We consider all of this to be a blessing. It’s all a gift. Because we feel all of that, we’re excited about the game (tonight). But we really do see it as just the next step in a very long season.”
Scoring Offense Rank Total offense Rank Rush offense Rank
FPD 36.5 1st 352.3 2nd 284 1st
Westfield 26.3 3rd 353.2 1st 277.3 2nd