Coach Eric Bishop noted both his Tigers and the Phoenix, who have identical 2-1 records in Region 5-AAA, are tied for third place and the winner would take a big step toward possibly making the state playoffs.
“This isn’t the Sonoraville team of the past two years,” Bishop said. “They are much improved. They are playing with probably some younger players than a lot of the other region teams, but they have some very good football players, especially their quarterback, their running back and their nose guard. When you look at film of Sonoraville, those three players really catch your eye.
“Their defensive line also is much improved. They are doing some things on offense you really have to be prepared for. They make you play assignment football on defense.”
The Phoenix are quarterbacked by sophomore Cody Long, who assumed starting duties the fourth game of the season and has helped steady the team’s offense.
Bishop said both teams are motivated to win because so much is riding on the contest.
“What makes this game so important is its playoff implications,” he said. “Of course there are still a lot of games left, but the winner will be in the driver’s seat for the No. 3 state playoff spot and the loser has to play its way into the fourth slot.”
Players for both teams also have a healthy measure of pride riding on the outcome because they are neighbors and have grown up around one another.
The schools are about 16 highway miles apart but considerably less in straight distances.
“It may be more like eight or nine miles as the crow flies,” Bishop guessed, adding Sonoraville stadium likely will be filled with fans and families of both teams.
“They are having a much improved season and will have a packed house,” he said.
The coach noted the Tigers usually are accompanied by a large contingent of family and fans to their games.
“We travel pretty well as far as parents and community supporters,” Bishop said. “Certainly with this being such a short distance, we would expect a big following for this game.”
He said that support helps the Tigers in their road games.
Bishop said the Tigers, who are coming off a bye week, have used that time to recuperate and prepare for the final month of region collisions that are remaining to be played and, hopefully, in the state playoffs, too.
“We’re healthy,” he said. “Last week was an open week. We focused on trying to improve on things we feel we needed to work on. We took the opportunity to kind of focus on Adairsville football. Hopefully we got some things off of our to-do list and it will show up on in our play the next few weeks and in the postseason as well.”
The Tigers and Phoenix, who have four region games remaining in their season, have identical 2-1 records in Region 5-AAA and are tied for third place, behind Cartersville and Ringgold.
The Tigers have a 4-2 overall record this season while Sonoraville’s stack of victories are two wins against four losses.
The Tigers, at least on paper, also are sporting a more potent offense and defense.
They have averaged scoring 30 points per game and allowing 16 points. Sonoraville has been scoring at 15 points a clip while surrendering 31 points.
The Tigers have region wins over Lakeview-Fort Oglethorpe, 49-0, and North Murray, 31-21. Their region loss was to Ringgold, 38-20.
Their remaining region foes to be played after Friday are Cartersville (Oct. 25), Gordon Central (Nov. 1) and Coahulla Creek (Nov. 8).
Sonoraville has region wins over Coahulla Creek, 41-16, and North Murray, 38-35. Its region loss was to Ringgold, 30-0.
Their remaining region foes to be played after Friday night are Gordon Central (Oct. 25), Cartersville (Nov. 1) and Lakeview-Fort Oglethorpe (Nov. 8).
Bishop said the Phoenix have shown vast improvement this year.
“They are not the Sonoraville of the last two years,” he said. “They are gaining experience and confidence.”