WARNER ROBINS -- In a year that already has seen Houston County set a program record for regular-season wins with eight, the Bears hope to make a little more history Friday night in the GHSA Class AAAAA quarterfinals by notching their record 11th win overall.
Standing in their way is a trip up I-75 to face a Stockbridge Tigers team that claimed the Region 4-AAAAA title and hasn’t lost since September.
“(Stockbridge’s) overall team speed is tough to deal with,” Houston County head coach Von Lassiter said. “They’ve got athletes at all positions, they really run, and they are hitters. They do not mind knocking you around.”
For all of the success Houston County has enjoyed in its first two years under Lassiter, it has had trouble winning away from McConnell-Talbert Stadium against quality opponents. The Bears are 0-4 away from their home stadium against teams that finished the season with a record of .500 or better since Lassiter took the reins of the program.
Houston County changed its preparation ahead of this week’s game, including opting to leave its normal practice field to practice at the Houston County soccer field.
“You kind of get in a routine, and routines are good, but you can kind of get complacent,” Lassiter said. “Getting them out of their routine early in the week will hopefully pay off for us when we go on the road Friday night.”
The Houston County offense looked anything but complacent in last week’s contest against Sequoyah.
Quarterback Jake Fromm lit up the scoreboard with more than 300 yards through the air and three touchdowns in the first half alone.
Playmaking wide receiver Darion Anderson caught two of those scores from Fromm and rushed for another, while newly appointed starting running back Kory Engram added two touchdowns on the ground in the third quarter. It was an excellent playoff performance for Engram, who took over the starting job when Kenny Gant was dismissed from the team in the week leading up to the game.
“We’ve got full confidence in Kory Engram being our running back,” Lassiter said. “He got over 100 yards rushing like we expected. I thought he got a lot of extra yards after contact. He kept his feet moving and got north and south with the ball in his hands. He’s been doing that all year, but now it’s his chance to be the starter. We’re real excited about him.”
A win over Stockbridge would give Houston County only its second trip to the semifinals in program history. The 1993 team accomplished that feat at the Class AA level.
“We’ve got to be able to play extremely fast and tackle the athletes that they’ve got,” Lassiter said. “I also think we’ve got to play really good special teams. That’s one area we’ve got to get better at and hopefully we will.”