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.”