Jack­ets, Phoenix pre­pare for ri­valry bat­tle, 6-AAA opener

Calhoun Times - - SPORTS WEDNESDAY - By Alex Far­rer

It’s hard to fit a whole town into one high school foot­ball sta­dium, but that (or some­thing close to that) will be at­tempted to be done on Fri­day at Phil Reeve Sta­dium.

The Cal­houn Yel­low Jack­ets wel­come the Sono­rav­ille Phoenix at 7:30 p.m. for a lo­cal ri­valry show­down that hap­pens to also be the Re­gion 6-AAA opener for both teams. Both Cal­houn head coach Hal Lamb and Sono­rav­ille head coach Den­ver Pate said they know what kind of ex­cite­ment and re­ac­tion this game will draw on Fri­day.

“I think it’s go­ing to be an ex­cel­lent at­mos­phere Fri­day,” said Lamb. “Both com­mu­ni­ties sup­port their teams very well so we ex­pect stand­ing room only. It is al­ways a good ri­valry when we get together so we ex­pect a hard fought game.”

“You know what to ex­pect when you go to Cal­houn,” said Pate. “The at­mos­phere will be elec­tric. Play­ing a lo­cal team in a re­gion game only adds to the ex­cite­ment.”

The Jack­ets (2-0) are off to a fast start to the sea­son as they have two solid non-re­gion wins, de­feat­ing Ridge­land in the opener on Aug. 16 and then dom­i­nat­ing Ther­rell, 52-6, at The Reeve last Fri­day. In the win, sev­eral play­ers con­trib­uted as Cal­houn got off to a fast start to lead 35-6 after one quar­ter and that al­lowed the re­serves to get a lot of ac­tion. Zack Fuller high­lighted the stats with three rush­ing touch­downs, and Bralin Bar­ton had a cou­ple elec­tric plays in the re­turn game, in­clud­ing a 55-yard punt re­turn for a touch­down.

“It was a great home opener for our team,” Lamb said of the win over Ther­rell. “I thought we han­dled the sit­u­a­tion very well. Ther­rell had a few starters out in­clud­ing their start­ing QB so we could have gone through the mo­tions know­ing one of their best play­ers was out, but we didn’t and I was pleased.”

Sono­rav­ille ( 1- 1) have looked solid at times in both of their non-re­gion con­tests so far as they de­feated Model 21-14 in their opener a cou­ple weeks ago and fell at Dar­ling­ton 20-0 last Fri­day with all of the Tigers’ points com­ing in the sec­ond half. Pate said the de­fense was the high­light of the night as they kept the Phoenix in it with stout play and forc­ing turnovers.

Fri­day’s game marks the of­fi­cial start of Cal­houn’s at­tempt at mak­ing state his­tory in 2018 as they play their re­gion opener. They are look­ing to break the Ge­or­gia state record for con­sec­u­tive ti­tles pre­vi­ously held by Lin­coln County, and they can do that this year by hoist­ing the 6-AAA crown for what would be their 18th straight. First up is Sono­rav­ille, who Lamb said his team has to play their ‘A’ Game against with the Phoenix be­ing a very ca­pa­ble and tal­ented team.

“Sono­rav­ille is very well coached and plays ex­tremely hard which means they are a very danger­ous team,” said Lamb.

Pate and the Phoenix are aim­ing to get off to a stel­lar start in the re­gion as they are look­ing to re­bound from miss­ing the play­offs last sea­son for the first time in four years. He said he ex­pects Cal­houn to be as tough a task as they have been over the past decade-plus.

“They are ex­actly you would think a Cal­houn team would be,” said Pate. “They have been bal­anced of­fen­sively and very sound de­fen­sively.”

Cal­houn has owned the se­ries since it started back in 2006, win­ning all 10 pre­vi­ous meet­ings, in­clud­ing a 41-3 vic­tory last sea­son at home over the Phoenix. Lamb said tak­ing care of the fun­da­men­tals will be im­por­tant against a Sono­rav­ille team look­ing to pull the up­set against the de­fend­ing Class AAA state cham­pion Jack­ets.

“Tak­ing care of the ball and win­ning the turnover bat­tle is key,” said Lamb. “We need to be sound in all phases of the game.”

Pate said that his team hav­ing an ad­van­tage in time of pos­ses­sion and mak­ing of­fen­sive drives count is what they need to do in or­der to have suc­cess on Fri­day.

“We must be able to sus­tain drives of­fen­sively,” said Pate. “We need to keep their of­fense on the side­lines as much as pos­si­ble and to do that you must ex­e­cute of­fen­sively. We have to also win the bat­tles up front and elim­i­nate turnovers.” See 2C

File pho­tos- TIM GODBEE and LARRY GREE­SON / For the Cal­houn Times

( LEFT) Cal­houn’s Luke Mose­ley (right) hauls in a touch­down pass dur­ing last Fri­day’s game against Ther­rell. ( RIGHT) Sono­rav­ille’s Case Collins (12) tries to break a tackle against Model on Aug. 17.

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