The Sonoraville Phoenix snapped a two-game losing skid with a complete performance last Friday on the road, but they will need that same kind of effort and probably more this week on their home turf.
Fresh off a 33-0 shutout win over Haralson County, the Phoenix (4-3, 1-1 in Region 6-AAA South) face a tough test against nearby neighbor Adairsville on Friday at 7:30 p.m. at The Furnace.
The matchup could hold big subregion implications down the road as both teams look to stay within striking distance of Calhoun and Bremen, who sit a game ahead of both Sonoraville and Adairsville (3-3, 0-1) in the loss column.
Sonoraville coach Denver Pate said with so few teams on the subregion schedule each one of the matchups is crucial, and this one has the feel of a rivalry showdown as well.
“Each game is big in this subregion,” said Pate. “These players know one another so it makes the game that much more exciting. Until last year, Adairsville has kind of had our number. Last year we were able to play a pretty good game all around against them, and we will look to do likewise this year.”
The Phoenix defeated Adairsville 35-0 last October, but before that Sonoraville had won just won of the other 10 meetings between the two programs, that one coming back in 2008.
Sonoraville got some confidence back last Friday with their performance on the road, which followed to close losses the previous two weeks. Patrick Moore was once again dynamic at the quarterback position, controlling the offense with precision and dynamic playmaking ability, which included 64 yards and two touchdowns on the ground and 196 yards and two touchdowns in the air. Tristan Key was steady in the rushing game as well, totaling 106 yards on 16 carries.
The Phoenix defense didn’t allow much on the other side of the ball as they recorded their first shutout of the season and forced a turnover.
“It felt really good to get back in the win column,” said Pate of his team’s win over the Rebels. “It felt even better that we were able to come out of that game without sustaining any more injuries. I thought offensively we did a good job of spreading the ball around, and defensively we did a good job of pursuing the football. We have to cut down on the penalties to stay in manageable situations on offense, and defensively we have to continue to work to improve on minimizing third down conversions.”
The Phoenix will need to bring that same kind of complete performance against the Tigers, who fell to Calhoun 42-16 last Friday in their first subregion game, but were within one possession at the half against the Jackets. They lean on several offensive playmakers, including quarterback Mason Boswell who can hurt defenses with his arm and legs. He threw for 189 yards and two touchdowns against Calhoun last week. Bryce Burgess, Christian Steele and Travon Branch are also capable ball carriers, and Cody Henderson and Ethan Belcher can make plays at receiver.
The Tigers’ defense is fast and rely on forcing turnovers, which they came up with two of last Friday against Calhoun. Pate said his team has several things to prepare for against a dynamic Adairsville team.
“Adairsville is an athletic team with good size on both fronts,” said Pate. “They will line up in multiple formations offensively. They have some tall rangy wideouts that do a good job of attacking the football. Defensively they will base out of the 3-4. They are solid up front, and they have good linebacker play. Their safeties are very active and do a good job in the run and passing game.”
Pate said keys for Friday against Adairsville include an emphasis on winning the turnover battle and relying on their home crowd to make it tough on the Tigers.
“I believe the turnover margin will be key in the game,” said Pate. “We can’t afford to turn the ball over and beat a team of Adairsville’s caliber. If we can cause a couple and work from a short field on occasions, that will be very beneficial for our offense.
“I also think our fan support and home field advantage can be beneficial in these games, and we look forward to a rowdy environment at the Furnace on Friday night.”