Jack­ets pre­pare for tough 1st-round test vs. Knights

Calhoun Times - - SPORTS WEDNESDAY - By Alex Far­rer

Over the last 16 sea­sons, Cal­houn has gone into the State Play­offs as a No. 1 seed on their home field and has never been de­feated by a No. 4 seed. They will aim to keep that streak go­ing this Fri­day when they host Re­gion 5-AAA No. 4 seed Pace Academy, but it’s cer­tainly not go­ing to be an easy task.

In fact, Cal­houn coach Hal Lamb said he be­lieves this will be the tough­est first-round test his team has ever faced.

“It is a tremen­dous chal­lenge,” said Lamb. “They are a re­ally good team. They have some good ath­letes, and they have a lot of size. We’ve def­i­nitely got our hands full. In my opin­ion, this is go­ing to be the tough­est first- round game since I’ve been here. But I think our kids will be ready, and we need our crowd to be loud as well.”

The Jack­ets ( 9- 1) en­ter the play­offs with a lot of mo­men­tum, win­ning their last seven games, in­clud­ing a 65-23 vic­tory at Mur­ray County last Fri­day to se­cure the pro­gram’s 17th straight re­gion ti­tle. Cal­houn had a huge of­fen­sive night in the win over the In­di­ans, es­pe­cially in the pass­ing game with eight to­tal touch­down passes di­vided be­tween three quar­ter­backs, in­clud­ing a 361-yard, five-TD ef­fort by starter Gavin Gray. Seven dif­fer­ent re­ceivers caught touch­down passes led by Luke Mose­ley who hauled in four catches for 131 yards and two touch­downs, and a to­tal of 17 dif­fer­ent re­ceivers caught a pass.

“I thought we played re­ally well last Fri­day,” said Lamb. “We did some re­ally good things in the pass­ing game, and our de­fense was good also. We gave up re­ally only one long run in the first half. It was a great game for us. We were fo­cused on that goal of win­ning a re­gion ti­tle, and now we have to shift our fo­cus to our next goal, win­ning a state ti­tle.”

Pace Academy (5-4) fin­ished in a three-way tie for sec­ond in the tough Re­gion 5-AAA along with Lovett and West­min­ster. ( De­fend­ing state cham­pion Cedar Grove fin­ished first in the re­gion.) Af­ter a coin flip and tiebreaker, the Knights drew the No. 4 seed and the road trip to Phil Reeve Sta­dium in the first round to take on Cal­houn.

The Knights have some very good play­ers led by se­nior of­fen­sive line­man Ja­ma­ree Sa­lyer, who is a five-star re­cruit and ranked by most ser­vices as a top10 player in the coun­try re­gard­less of po­si­tion. Line­backer/ f ull­back Realus Ge­orge is an­other threat as he boasts sev­eral big schol­ar­ship of­fers and makes an im­pact on both sides of the ball, in­clud­ing lead­ing the team in tack­les (42), tack­les-for-loss (19) and sacks (eight).

Ju­nior Keashawn Per­ry­man is Pace Academy’s lead­ing rusher with 724 yards and eight touch­downs on the ground for a Knights’ of­fense that leans heav­ily on the run. How­ever, ju­nior quar­ter­back Jared Ray­man also poses enough of a threat in the pass­ing game with 661 yards and seven touch­downs through the air this sea­son.

Lamb said his team is fo­cus­ing on sev­eral keys on both sides of the ball to coun­ter­act what Pace Academy likes to do.

“They are a re­ally big team, es­pe­cially on the of­fen­sive line, and they like to run it be­hind those big OL,” said Lamb. “We’ve got to con­tain their run­ning backs and try to get their of­fense off the field, or they can put to­gether some long drives.

“I think their big­gest strength is on de­fense. They do so many dif­fer­ent things and line up in mul­ti­ple schemes. They are tough to pre­pare for. Our job is to go out there on Fri­day night and play good, sound foot­ball in ev­ery as­pect of the game to give our­selves the best shot at win­ning.”

Lamb added that the at­mos­phere created by the home crowd could play a big role as well.

“It’s re­ally im­por­tant,” said Lamb. “We need to get our crowd into the game. We need it to be very loud and an in­cred­i­ble play­off at­mos­phere. This is go­ing to be Pace Academy’s first trip here so we need it to be packed and loud to help us. We want it to be a big night for Cal­houn Foot­ball.”

Pace Academy isn’t your typ­i­cal No. 4 seed that snuck into the play­offs. They are a le­git­i­mate team with very good play­ers and solid coach­ing. But Cal­houn has been through play­off bat­tles be­fore, es­pe­cially at The Reeve and sent a lot of qual­ity op­po­nents home to start their off­sea­son.

The Jack­ets will be in for a dog­fight early on in Fri­day’s game, but their depth, tal­ent and ex­pe­ri­ence take con­trol in the sec­ond half, and they march on to the sec­ond round.

Cal­houn wins,




TIM GODBEE / For the Cal­houn Times

A swarm of Yel­low Jacket de­fend­ers com­bines to bring down Mur­ray County’s Nick Ri­d­ley (29) last Fri­day.

TIM GODBEE / For the Cal­houn Times

Cal­houn’s Zack Fuller runs past the Mur­ray County de­fense for a touch­down last Fri­day.

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