Phoenix aim for fast start vs. LFO

Calhoun Times - - SPORTS WEDNESDAY - By Alex Far­rer

The Sono­rav­ille Phoenix com­pleted a tough open­ing stretch of non-re­gion tests last Fri­day by go­ing 2-1 in games against Model, Cass and Dal­ton. But now, they shift their at­ten­tion to Re­gion 6-AAA as they head to Lake­view-Fort Oglethorpe this Fri­day for a re­gion cross­over matchup at 7:30 p.m.

The Phoenix got be­hind early against Dal­ton, but showed some growth, es­pe­cially of­fen­sively, as they dis­played more off a pro­fi­cient pass­ing game. Quar­ter­back Pa­trick Moore threw for 210 yards on 19-of-28 at­tempts with a touch­down against the Cata­mounts as Sono­rav­ille opened things up a bit af­ter lean­ing heav­ily on the run­ning game in each of their first two games.

Sono­rav­ille coach Den­ver Pate said he was pleased with many as­pects of the game against Dal­ton, who he said was a good team to mea­sure them­selves against be­fore go­ing into the rest of the sched­ule.

“I think play­ing a team of Dal­ton’s cal­iber is a mea­sur­ing stick so to speak for our pro­gram and lets us know that there is still a lot of work to be done,” said Pate. “I think we were close at times to ex­e­cut­ing on both sides of the ball, but we have to fin­ish drives on of­fense and fin­ish tack­les on de­fense. I thought we looked bet­ter of­fen­sively, and we threw it around pretty good. We still lack that quick start that we need to im­prove upon to give our­selves a bet­ter chance to be suc­cess­ful.”

This week, the Phoenix will face an LFO team that is com­ing off their first win of the year last week. They de­feated Gor­don Lee 24-7 af­ter fall­ing to Her­itage (Ca­toosa) and Ar­muchee in their first two games. Sono­rav­ille has had suc­cess over the last sev­eral years against the War­riors, win­ning the last four, in­clud­ing a 46-3 vic­tory in last year’s matchup. Pate said his team will be well aware of what LFO wants to do and which play­ers they need to fo­cus on neu­tral­iz­ing.

“LFO will base out of a 4-2 de­fense and will slide to a 3-4 on long yardage,” said Pate. “No. 62 Kameron Peters is a good player for them on the de­fen­sive front. On of­fense, they like to spread you out to try to be able to run the foot­ball. Their quar­ter­back No. 10 Zach Vaughn does a good job of run­ning their of­fense.”

The Phoenix, like many other teams in the state, will have less time to get ready for Fri­day’s matchup as they were un­able to prac­tice on Mon­day or Tues­day due to school be­ing closed thanks to the in­clement weather. Pate said he won’t spend a lot of en­ergy wor­ry­ing about those two less days of prepa­ra­tion. His team will just do the best they can with the time they have.

“I try not to worry about the things I can­not con­trol,” said Pate. “I just hope ev­ery­one stays safe. Most teams are un­der the same cir­cum­stances as us. We will look to have a good prac­tice Wed­nes­day and make the best of the cir­cum­stances.”

The Phoenix will likely try to con­tinue to bal­ance out the of­fen­sive play­call­ing this week as they have had a lot of suc­cess in the run game with Moore and run­ning back Tris­tan Key com­bin­ing for close to 400 yards in their first three games and seven touch­downs on the ground. Pate said the big key this week is to get off to a bet­ter start, which is some­thing they haven’t done in the past cou­ple weeks.

“We want to be more ex­plo­sive out of the gate so to speak,” said Pate. “We need to start out faster on of­fense and fin­ish drives. On de­fense, we have to limit big plays, get off the field on third down and cre­ate turnovers.”

The Phoenix had a tough one last Fri­day, but they will have a chance to im­pose their will this week as they should have a big ad­van­tage over LFO. The War­riors have had lit­tle suc­cess in the past few years, and this year’s team hasn’t looked a lot bet­ter to start the sea­son.

Sono­rav­ille’s of­fense will get the fast start they de­sire on Fri­day and pull away for a rel­a­tively stress-free vic­tory on the road.

Sono­rav­ille wins, 41-17.

Score: Pre­dic­tion:

File-LARRY GREESON / For the Cal­houn Times

Sono­rav­ille play­ers run onto the field prior to their re­cent game against Cass.

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