Here are this week’s top matchups in the Middle Georgia area.
Tattnall vs. Stratford
7:30 p.m. Friday at Tattnall
Story of the game: In last year’s matchup, this game went down to the wire with the Tattnall Trojans eking out a 21-19 win over the Stratford Eagles. From there the two teams combined for just one loss the rest of the season. It was a turning point for both teams, something they are still searching for this season. The Eagles come in with 1-4 record and have lost two in a row by a combined 49 points. The Trojans are sitting at 3-2 on the season following back-to-back wins.
Keys to the game for Tattnall: The Trojans come into this averaging over 30 points per game while their opponent barely averages double digits. If Tattnall can turn up the heat early on offense, it could put the game out of reach quickly. With it being a rivalry game though, the Eagles are bound to come out motivated and could be a much different team than we have seen through their first five games of the year.
Keys to the game for Stratford: The offense has struggled this season and the Eagles are being outscored 111-52. The defense will need to keep this game as low scoring as possible. The lone win this season was a 14-7 win over Washington-Wilkes and was the best offensive performance to date. The Eagles need to find an identity on offense but until then, the defense will need to be at the top of their game.
Staff pick: Tattnall
Mary Persons vs. Upson-Lee
7:30 p.m. Friday at Mary Persons
Story of the game: The Mary Persons Bulldogs ended a two-game losing streak with a 38-13 win over Spalding. This puts them at 1-0 in the region to start the road towards their fifth straight region title. The Upson-Lee Knights have lost three straight games, including the region opener against Perry, by a score of 22-15.
Keys to the game for Mary Persons: Expect big things from a pair of Bulldog running backs. Enrico Harden has been one of the top players in Middle Georgia but missed a couple of games this season. The team is just better when he is in the lineup, partly due to his ability to play both sides of the ball at a high level. If Harden can break a couple of big plays, then the Bulldogs should be able to win this game. William Stewart also has emerged as a second option in the offense and can help manage Harden’s workload.
Keys to the game for Upson-Lee: Quarterback Jake Davis struggled against Perry and was intercepted four times in the game. Davis will need to cut down on the mistakes as the Bulldogs defense will make him pay with players like Harden who have the ability to cover any wide receiver like a blanket. If Davis can minimize the mistakes and let running back Milique Smith set the tone for the Knights, then they have a chance to upset the Bulldogs in this region showdown.
Staff pick: Mary Persons
Warner Robins vs. Harris County
7:30 p.m. Friday at Warner Robins
Story of the game: This game will serve as the region opener for these two teams and could play a crucial role in the outcome of the season. Harris County comes in on a two-game winning streak with the offense scoring 100 points in that stretch. Warner Robins is 5-1 on the season including a 29-14 win over Houston County last week that showcased the Demons ability to keep a good offense in check.
Keys to the game for Warner Robins: The Demons have a good offense that seems to be getting better the more that quarterback Jalen Addie gets experience at the position. Addie’s recent uptick in play has opened up more running lanes for running back Jahlen Rutherford. However, this game will fall on the Demons ability to slow down the Harris County offense. The Tigers average over 35 points per game and have been able to win in shootouts this season. Warner Robins needs to slow the game down and limit possessions for the Harris County offense.
Keys to the game for Harris County: The Tigers need to force Addie to beat them. While he is constantly improving, the run game is still the best part of that offense. Harris County will need to make Addie throw into tight windows and try to get pressure on him early. When he has time to throw, it also gives his talented group of wide receivers a chance to get separation from the defenders. Force Addie to throw early on in the play and don’t allow him to get one of his big-play guys open downfield because he tends to make teams pay when they allow that.
Staff pick: Warner Robins