While Region 4-AAAA Div. B champion Griffin (8-1) appears to be the overwhelming favorite against Region 4-AAAA Div. A fourth-place Eagle’s Landing (1-8), 12th-year Bears head coach Steve DeVoursney said Eagle’s Landing is a lot better — especially lately — than its record indicates.
“They’ve gotten better each week,” DeVoursney said of a Golden Eagles team which beat Woodland-Stockbridge 30-28 on Oct. 19 and lost its last game 35-34 at Locust Grove two weeks ago on Oct. 26.
While the Golden Eagles are allowing a region-worst 39 ppg against, they have averaged a respectable 26 ppg for.
“What they did (originally) was had all their (best) players on offense,” DeVoursney explained. “Now a lot of those kids have gone both ways for them the past two games, and they won one and should have won the other — they lost that one on the last play of the game.”
Subsequently, the Joe Teknipp-coached Golden Eagles have been energized.
Throw in an off week since then to lick their wounds and spend the extra time preparing, and the Griffin coaching staff expects a full-time battle in 48 hours.
“They probably think they are a lot better football team now since they’ve started playing everybody both ways,” DeVoursney noted of the Golden Eagles. “So I’m sure they’ll be fired up coming in here.”
Of course, during a season where Griffin’s only loss came against Region 4-AAAA Div. A champion Stockridge, 17-14, on a field goal with no time left on the clock back in September, the Bears sport a four-game winning streak heading into Friday’s winner-take-all elimination game.
Wins during the streak have come against Riverdale 35-14, North Clayton 42-20, Upson-Lee 28-14 and most recently Spalding 42-0 last week.
Through it all, Griffin is averaging a region-best 36 ppg for and yielding a region-second best 15 ppg against.
“Our offense knows we’re going to have to score a lot of points and our defense knows it’s going to have a big challenge stopping them,” DeVoursney said. “They are explosive on special teams too.”
“What scares you is they have playmakers everywhere,” DeVoursney said of Eagle’s Landing. “They have kids who are big-time college football players who are explosive, who can put a lot of points on the board in a hurry.”
DeVoursney compared Eagle’s Landing’s offense to Griffin’s: “They are very similar — just as explosive. They’ve got a very good running back, probably the best running back in the region, and they’ve got a good quarterback who can run and throw.”
ELHS’s ratio of run to pass is about 50:50.
“We have to make sure we’re focused in,” DeVoursney warned. “If we have a bad game we’ll be sitting at the house next week, like a lot of other teams around the state. We have to make sure we come ready to play and do what we’re supposed to.”
The two teams have met twice in history, 2004 and 2005. Griffin won both encounters, scoring a 48-13 victory at ELHS in their first meeting and a 34-0 at Memorial Stadium in their last meeting.
The winner between Griffin and ELHS on Friday advances to an opening-round Class AAAA state playoff game next week.
If Griffin wins it can advance as a No. 1 or No. 2 seed, depending on what happens between No. 5 state-ranked Stockbridge (8-1) and Region 4-AAAA Div. B fourth-place North Clayton (2-7). If Stockbridge wins, Griffin will be a No. 2. Whereas, if Stockbridge loses Griffin will be a No. 1 seed.
Either way, Griffin would host an opening-round state playoff game if it wins Friday. Of course, if it loses the season is over.
REGION 4-AAAA STANDINGS
School Overall Region PF PA
Stockbridge 8-1-0 4-0 24 10
Locust Grove 6-3-0 2-2 23 22
Dutchtown 6-3-0 2-2 30 22
E. Landing 1-8-0 1-3 26 39
Woodland-Stock. 2-7-0 1-3 18 27
School Overall Region PF PA
Griffin 8-1-0 5-0 36 15
Jonesboro 8-1-0 4-1 32 16
Riverdale 6-3-0 3-2 22 19
N. Clayton 2-7-0 2-3 14 22
Upson-Lee 3-6-0 1-4 25 26
Spalding 1-7-1 0-5 6 21
THIS WEEK’S GAMES
Spalding at Forest Park (Thur. @ Tara Stadium)
E. Landing at Griffin
Dutchtown at Jonesboro
Riverdale at Locust Grove
North Clayton at Stockbridge
Upson-Lee at Woodland-Stockbridge
LAST WEEK’S GAMES
Griffin 42, Spalding 0
Stockbridge 35, Locust Grove 0
Dutchtown 21, Woodland-Stock. 14
Jonesboro 44, Upson-Lee 35
Bye: E. Landing, Riverdale and N. Clayton