In a football world of increasing air attacks comes Veterans and West Laurens.
Action will be up the gut, the kind of game that makes offensive and defensive lineman smile.
“It’ll be just an old-school smashmouth backyard fight,” Veterans head coach David Bruce said. “That’s what it’s going to be. Probably the last time we had a good back-room fight like this was two years ago when we beat Mary Persons up there for the region (title). That was just two teams hammering each other.”
The hammering on Friday at Herb St. John Stadium in Perry will be with teams undefeated in GHSA Region 2-AAAA action, Veterans at 1-0 and West Laurens at 2-0.
The Warhawks are off a confidence-boosting 27-7 win last week at Baldwin, avenging the Braves’ last-minute win a year ago. West Laurens head coach Stacy Nobles will now get the Veterans team closer to what most have expected the past two years.
“They’re big, physical, and well-coached,” he said. “I told people coming into the year that Veterans had a lot coming back from last year, and they were real close last year to having a completely different record.
“They’re well-tested with the schedule they played. I knew when they got to region, they’d be clicking.”
The overall records are different, Veterans at 2-3 after a difficult non-region schedule and West Laurens at 5-1.
But there are plenty of similarities.
Both have top-flight running backs with almost equal numbers.
Veterans’ Desjuan Harris, a 5-foot-7, 165-pounder, has 832 yards on 142 carries with six touchdowns, while West Laurens’ Darius Bradford, a 5-11, 200-pounder, has 834 yards and 10 touchdowns on 124 carries.
“That Bradford kid, he can tote the mail,” Bruce said. “He ain’t no joke. He runs hard. He’s got our attention, ain’t no doubt about that.”
Harris is smaller, but he runs just as hard.
West Laurens changed its offensive philosophy after losing quarterback Garrel Quainton and receiver Justin Smith, who helped the Raiders become a successful passing team.
They’re gone, but the Raiders’ offensive line is better, so they are more ground oriented.
With the defenses fairly sure of what’s coming, quarterback play is big, and both Logan Byrd of Veterans and Jalen Mack of West Laurens aren’t far apart statistically, separated by four yards, although Byrd has more attempts in one fewer game.
Byrd is a running threat, as well, with 396 yards and six touchdowns.
Both teams had good games for three quarters last week before getting a little sluggish in the fourth quarter. And neither is likely to survive a repeat this week.
“We can’t do that against good football teams,” said Nobles, a little more concerned with mistakes, mostly turnovers, in recent weeks that have made for some tight games. “We’ve done some really good things the last few weeks. If (we) let good teams hang around long enough, it’s going to come back to haunt us.”