That’s because the Tigers will be playing the first of seven consecutive Region 5-AAA games and head coach Eric Bishop says the LFO game — just like the other six region contests that follow — all count equally in determining the success of his team this season.
“The big thing headed into the LFO game is that the so-called preseason games are over,” the coach said. “The non-region games are behind us, this being the first region game. Each one of them counts equally as much. It’s a big game because it’s a big swing from 1-0 to 0-1. It’ll be important for us to get off to a good start in this game and, ultimately, in region play looking toward the playoff picture.”
That is why he puts little stock in the two records of the teams. The Tigers are 2-1 this season, with a two-game winning streak that followed a loss they took when they opened against AAAA Cass High, a county rival.
They are averaging 28 points per game and allowing 13 thus far.
LFO is 1-2 with a win over Heritage, Catoosa and losses to Gordon Lee and Dade County.
The Warriors are averaging 15 points while giving up 31.
LFO offers a variety of looks from the offensive side of the ball.
“Offensively LFO on film really at times looks like two different teams,” Bishop said. “At times they spread it out and use a lot of spread formations and throw the ball all over the field. At other times they will be in one or two tights with three backs in the backfield and look like a totally different team.”
He said the Warriors offer a familiar look on the other side of the ball.
“Defensively we’re going to have the opportunity to see a 3-5 again,” he said. “There was time long ago when you didn’t see many people running the 3-5. Now you probably see it more often than you don’t. We feel comfortable with how we match up with them up front and on the perimeter.”
Bishop said a key to Adairsville having success in the game and this entire season is to keep up its level of play.
“Going into this ballgame, we feel like the most important thing is that we continue to do the things well on defense that we’ve done with tackling, getting 11 players to the football and playing good third-down defense,” he said.
He has similar expectations for the offense.
“Offensively the key word there is consistency. We’re going to look for consistency in every drive and eliminate some of those mistakes that have led to turnovers in the past,” Bishop said.
The head coach said the Tigers have improved during the season and it’s a matter of bringing that level of play to each game and continuing to get better.
“Offensively we really made our greatest improvement on the offensive line, those guys up front, Sheldon Lavette, Charlie Silvers, Denton Smith, Bailey Jones, Phoenix Brown,” Bishop said. “Those guys have really made the greatest improvement since the Cass game probably. It’s been evident in the way we’ve driven the ball. We have found ways, in turnovers, to not necessarily score as often as we could have otherwise, but that’s part of the growing up process.”
The coach said the Tigers also have tried to prepare for the special teams play they will see from LFO.
“What’s mostly unique about them is they do some things on special teams that you don’t see every Friday night,” he said. “Obviously we’ve given some attention to protecting our kickers and being sure we win that aspect of the three phases of football, offense, defense and special teams. They try to block kicks and gain points by keeping your field goals and PATs to a minimum, then try to block some punts.
“We’ve put a lot of emphasis on that this week.”
Bishop said the Tigers are a better team than they were to start the season.
“As a coaching staff, we are pleased with where we are at,” he said. “But we certainly are not satisfied. We feel like we’re just on the verge of playing up to our potential for 48 minutes.”
Kickoff is at 7:30 p.m. for the contest, which is the alumni game for Adairsville. The Tigers will be honoring their first football team, who played the 1956-57 season, at halftime.