“Like I told them yesterday, ‘The playoffs start Friday,’” said Jags head coach Nick Davis, in his second-year at SHS. “We win and we’re one step closer to realizing our goal (of making the playoffs) and having an opportunity that last week (of the season) to get in.”
For now, however, Spalding will try to bounce back from a 24-21 heartbreaking loss last week at home to Dutchtown. Jags quarterback Powell Krepps fired touchdown passes of 35 yards to Anthony Bush and 34 yards Rodney Jackson before scoring on a 1-yard keeper himself to put Spalding ahead 21-17 going into the fourth quarter.
SHS had the game in control throughout most of the quarter before a bad snap on a punt led to a sack of the punter and gave Dutchtown the ball at the Spalding 35 with 6:11 to play. Seven plays later the Bulldogs scored with 3:48 to go. Spalding’s potential game-winning drive was thwarted on an interception at the Dutchtown 12 with 2:12 left to play.
“Our kids are upbeat this week,” Davis said Tuesday. “We had a good practice yesterday and the kids were really focused and seemed determined.”
It was a positive sign.
Many Spalding players left the field Thursday night in tears.
“It was really good to see them hurt after a tough loss last week,” said Davis. “Since I’ve been here, other than the Griffin game (a 3-0 overtime loss in the season opener last year), that’s the first time I’ve ever seen them hurt. So I know our message is getting across and is beginning to sink in and mean something with all the work they are putting in — knowing there is a strong possibility we should be sitting at 4-0 or 3-0-1 at the worst.”
“We understand we have a great opportunity to so something that hasn’t been done here in several years with our goal of making the playoffs,” added Davis.
While this year’s team is trying to become the first in school history to make the state playoff field since 2009, Tommy Watson-coached Upson-Lee made the state playoffs last year. After going 6-5 last year, the Knights opened this season losing to Pike County 40-39 in double overtime and losing to Stockbridge 13-3. Since then, however, they have defeated Eagle’s Landing 31-29 and most recently Central-Macon 42-21.
“It all starts with their quarterback,” said Davis, whose team is tops in the subregion allowing a scant 13 ppg against. “He’s a very athletic guy. We’re going to have to do a good job of containing him.”
Upson-Lee comes into the game averaging 28 points per game.
On the other side of the ball the Knights have struggled, allowing a subregion worst 25 ppg.
“On defense they don’t do anything fancy,” said Davis. “They line up and play kind of bend-but-don’t-break (football) and just try not to give up the big play.”
Nonetheless, controlling the ball will be paramount to Spalding’s success this week.
“We’ve definitely got to try to control the ball and their offense off the field because their quarterback is really outstanding,” said Davis. “He is a big-play maker for them.”
Spalding, which has struggled at time on offense this season, was averaging 3.3 ppg heading into last week’s game where the offense scored a season-high 21-points, despite two lost fumbles — both which led to touchdowns — and the interception.
“Hopefully we can move the ball and score some points and have some points like we did last week,” said Davis. “I was really pleased on that side of the ball to see kids getting excited and feeling good about what they were doing.”
Region 4-AAAA Standings
This Week's Games
Griffin at Riverdale
Spalding at Upson-Lee
Stockbridge at E. Landing
Dutchtown at Locust Grove
Jonesboro at North Clayton
Last Week's Games
Stockbridge 17, Griffin 14
Dutchtown 24, Spalding 21
Riverdale 52, E. Landing 36
Jonesboro 34, Woodland-Stockbridge 20
Locust Grove 19, North Clayton 12