Game: New Creation Christian (3-0) at Unity Christian (3-0)
Last meeting: New Creation Christian 40, Unity Christian 22 (Aug. 31, 2018)
All-time series: New Creation Christian leads 8-1
On the web: For score updates throughout Friday’s games, visit RN-T.com.
Unity Christian School’s football team has powered through the first part of its season with great success. But the challenges are going to keep coming for the small band of brothers.
After putting up 170 points on the scoreboard so far, the Lions could face their first true test of the season when they welcome New Creation Christian to Shorter University’s Ben Brady Field.
“We’re excited,” Unity head coach Mark Ackerman said. “The coaching staff and I are excited about seeing how much further we’ve come, so this is going to be a good test for us.”
Part of the spark that is powering the Lions’ success is the return of quarterback Drew King. King missed all of last season after tearing his labrum in the offseason, but the quarterback is wasting no time in putting up some big numbers for the Lions in his junior season.
Through Unity’s first three games, King is 30-for-48 with 424 yards and 10 touchdowns through the air and has rolled up 360 yards and four touchdowns on the ground, including a six-touchdown performance this past week against Dominion Christian.
With so few seniors on the team, Ackerman said King’s presence on the field has been significant for the Lions.
“Him coming back and fitting in immediately and feeling very comfortable, either running or passing the ball — he’s feeling really good at the helm,” Ackerman said.
John Nance and Caleb Thompson have also proved to be dangerous against opponents. Nance, who replaced King at quarterback during last year’s campaign, caught three passes for 92 yards and a touchdown last week against Dominion Christian, and Thompson caught three passes, all of which he took for touchdowns.
Not to be outdone, Ackerman said his defense has also impressed him so far this season.
The Lions, who are playing eight-man football in the newly-renamed Georgia Association of Private and Parochial Schools, have only given up 36 points for an average of 12 points per game, which is good news for Unity because the team has struggled against New Creation in the past.
Last season, the Crusaders topped the Lions 40-22 in a road loss for Unity. This year, New Creation is also 3-0, including an 88-30 win against Camp Jewell House this past Friday.
“We talked to the boys about ramping up the schedule a little bit,” Ackerman said. “There are a couple of teams that we’ve played the last couple of years that really thumped us pretty good. They have bigger bodies, and they just kind of lean on you and just keep pounding it. They run the ball 80 percent of the time in a two-back backfield. It’s been hard for us. We’re a smaller team. This is one that we circled to see how much better we’re getting.”
— Jonathan Blaylock