“I fully expect nothing less,” Ashmore said Wednesday in practice.
All eyes will be on a match-up of quarterbacks that features Moody, who had 185 yards and a pair of touchdowns passing and another rushing with an interception in his team’s 42-15 season opening win last week against Lamar County, and junior Griffin signal caller Marcus Waller, who had 300 yards and three TDs last week with three interceptions in his team’s 41-34 loss at Dunwoody.
It’ll all play out 7:30 p.m., Friday night at Griffin Memorial Stadium when the two schools meet in a regular season varsity game for the first time since 1952 in a series Spalding leads 3-1 and has a three-game winning streak.
Past history, however, is the furthest thing from Ashmore’s mind. He’s more concerned with recent history, namely then Class AAAA No. 1-state ranked Griffin’s loss to then Class AAA No. 8-ranked Dunwoody six days ago.
“Emotionally, they are coming off a loss to Dunwoody and they are going to be hungry for a win,” said Ashmore. “Add to that its a crosstown rivalry game and they’ll be ready to play.”
Of course, Spalding, 5-5 the past two seasons, got the Clint Ashmore era started off on the right foot with a win at home against Lamar County, a team that was 1-9 last year.
“When you give up 15 points in a game you’re usually not very happy,” said third-year SHS defensive coordinator Dale Wiggins, who has three returning starters on defense. “But I challenged them at halftime to shut them out the second half and they rose to the occasion.”
The changes included adjusting to LCHS’s zero set and going from a three to a 4-man rush.
However, this week both Wiggins and Ashmore are concerned with Griffin’s speed.
“They have good speed to the flanks,” said Ashmore, “and I think what is overlooked is their ability to throw the football. A lot of their big plays last week came off the pass.’
With starting Griffin Daily News All-Area fullback Sheldon Hancock out with a dislocated elbow he suffered the week before in a preseason scrimmage at Marist, Waller threw touchdown passes of 76 and 26 years to Buck Hancock and 28 yards to Greg Worthy last week.
Griffin scored other touchdowns on a 3-yard run by D.J. Morgan and a 90-yard kickoff return by Denarius Appling.
“Containing their speed will be the biggest challenge we face,” said Wiggins. “They have speed to burn in a lot of places and we’re not known for our speed.”
On the other side of the ball the Jags rolled up 360 total yards of offense, including 175 on 29 carries - the fullback tandem of senior Cortez Puckett and sophomore Zay Sharp accounting for most of the yards.
Puckett scored on runs of 23 and 1 yards, while Sharp scored on a 7-yard run. Moody added touchdown passes of 11 yards to Rodney Gilbert and 32 yards to Willie Hamm in Spalding’s newly installed quick-strike, spread offense.
“They did something early in the game we were not prepared for when they came out in a 4-4, cover 2,” said SHS offensive coordinator Rodney Ellerbee, who watched as his freshman quarterback took a sack on the first series.
he quickly regrouped.
“We had faced some of that in the Morrow scrimmage and knew what to do, so we came off script and he handled that well,” said Ellerbee. “That was big.”