Fresh off their most complete performance of the season last week in a dominant road win over LFO, the Sonoraville Phoenix return home for another Region 6-AAA crossover matchup this Friday as they host Ringgold for Homecoming.
The matchup, which has produced some high drama over the last few meetings between the two teams, will have added significance on Friday as Sonoraville (3-1) will likely play in front of one of their biggest home crowds this season as many former alumni and community members gather to celebrate their Phoenix pride for Homecoming.
Sonoraville coach Denver Pate said he knows it is a special week that could create some different hurdles than normal for preparation, but he expects his team to handle it well and be focused on the task at hand, which is a Homecoming Night win.
“Everyone has to deal with it sometime throughout their season,” said Pate, who is off to a good start in his first season at the helm. “The biggest thing we are doing is just dealing with it and not making it a burden. We will allow the kids to participate in the activities, but when they are on the grass they know it is time to lock in and get better.”
The Phoenix certainly showed growth last Friday as they played well and dominated almost every aspect of their road win at LFO. The offense put up 518 total yards, 311 coming on the ground and 207 in the air. Quarterback Patrick Moore had his most consistent game of the year to this point, throwing for 207 yards on 12-of-16 attempts with a touchdown while spreading the ball out to six different targets, and the senior also ran for 92 yards and a touchdown. Tristan Key added 116 yards and score on the ground and caught three balls for 79 yards and a TD, Trenton Daniel scored twice on runs and had four receptions for 40 yards and Case Collins ran for 78 yards on 10 carries.
Sonoraville’s defense did their job as well, playing a ‘bend but don’t break’ style that gave up some yards but seemed to come up with big plays when they needed them most.
Pate said he was pleased with how his team played, especially the way they got things going early after a few slow starts earlier in the season.
“It did feel good to finally start out fast offensively,” said Pate. “I thought Patrick did a good job of distributing the football, and the offensive line did a good job of opening up holes for Tristan and Case. Our defense did a good job of settling in a getting stops when we needed them and helped put the offense in good field position throughout the night.”
Sonoraville has won three straight over Ringgold over the last two seasons, and all three have been high-scoring, shootout-type affairs. They defeated the Tigers twice last season with the second coming in the region play-in game by comeback fashion in double-overtime to send the Phoenix to the playoffs for the fourth straight year.
The Tigers (2-2) have an explosive, pass-heavy offense led by quarterback Cole Kibler. The junior signal-caller throws it a lot and has several talented targets, including receivers Andre Tarver, Ty Jones, Pete Brower and tight end Drake Starks, among others. They are coming off a 47-42 comeback win over Adairsville last Friday and will have revenge on their mind after last season’s difficult season-ending loss at The Furnace.
Pate said he expects a very motivated and confident Ringgold team on Friday, and his Phoenix must accomplish several keys in order to pull out the win.
“Ringgold will come in with a lot of confidence after pulling out a win in a high-scoring game with Adairsville,” said Pate.
“They will look to attack on offensive, and we have to be able to counter and do a good job of executing our assignments both defensively and offensively. We must be able to execute and sustain drives on offense and keep their offense off the field as much as possible. Winning the turnover battle and time of possession will be key in the game. We are going to have to eliminate big plays from their offense and make sure we swarm to the football.”