Sonoraville and Model are in similar places recently as a program.
Each school has had some tough times on the football field over the past decade but have seemed to right the ship in the past couple years as the Phoenix earned their first-ever State playoff berth last year and the Devils are coming off back-to-back playoff appearances.
Now, the two get to measure themselves against one another as they meet at Sonoraville on Friday at 7:30 p.m.
It will be the season opener for the Phoenix, but the second game for the Devils as they defeated Lumpkin County at home last Friday, 15-8.
Sonoraville coach Jim Kremer said he’s been impressed with what Model has accomplished the last few years to get things turned around.
“Coach (Gordon) Powers has some really good athletes and has done a good job there,” said Kremer, who took over the head coaching job in April after serving as defensive coordinator last season. “They’re coming off a 7-4 season, and they won their first game so they’re coming in with some confidence.”
This will be the ninth meeting between the two teams despite the Phoenix not starting their program until 2006. Sonoraville leads the series 5-3, but Model took last year’s meeting with a 27-6 win at Sonoraville.
The Phoenix played their preseason scrimmage a couple Fridays ago against Union County, falling 21-14 in the varsity portion in the first half.
Kremer said the week off between the scrimmage and the season opener was beneficial for his squad.
“I think you make a substantial improvement between your first and second game or between the scrimmage and the opener,” said Kremer. “I feel like we got better last week. We really went and fixed some issues.
“We had some things we worked on after the scrimmage, and that’s what we’ll be doing every week. You’ll see something in the game and try to fix it the next week. We’ll take one game at a time.”
In the scrimmage, the Phoenix rushing game took center stage as quarterback Cody Long led the way with 83 yards on nine carries, including a 16-yard touchdown run. He also had a six-yard TD pass to Clark Johnson.
Brandon Dendy and Dylan Dixon also had good nights on the ground, running for 56 and 55 yards, respectively.
The Devils also boast a solid rushing game with running backs Nakyle Watkins and Chris Dublin, who each had a touchdown in the win over Lumpkin County.
Kremer said dealing with Model’s skill players is one of the keys to Friday’s contest.
“We need to be able to block and tackle well,” said Kremer. “They’ve got some good running backs and some big receivers so we need to contain them and rally to the ball to make tackles.
“On offense, if we can block them like I think we can, we should be very successful. It’s always different when you go into the first real game. You’ve got to be able to do it when it matters.”