Coosa-Darlington Football

Coosa’s Cameron Lowe tries to avoid the grasp of Darlington’s Dawson Williams (25) and Frank Manning during a game at Chris Hunter Stadium on Aug. 30, 2019. Tonight, Coosa and Darlington will kick off their respective 2020 seasons on home turf.

Week two varsity football has arrived as five teams prepare to take the field on Friday night. The Coosa Eagles and the Darlington Tigers prepare to kick off their respective seasons within friendly confines. The Unity Christian Lions return to action while the Model Blue Devils and the Pepperell Dragons look to rebound from season-opener road losses.

Trion at Coosa (0-0), 7:30 p.m.

The Coosa Eagles open their season against the Trion Bulldogs. It will also be head coach Joey Mathis’ debut at Coosa High School.

“Anytime you can open up at home, you definitely want to do that,” Mathis said in a phone interview. “I think our kids are excited, the community’s excited. We’ve been practicing for so long now, we’re just ready to get out there against another team and see where we’re at.”

The Eagles hold a 7-9-1 all-time record against Trion, with the lone tie from 1958.

“When you think of Trion, you think of tradition, and they’re generally known for running) the ball,” Mathis said. “They’re going to be well-coached, they’re going to be physical. It’s going to be a great opening game for us and a good opportunity to see where we measure up.”

This will be the third straight meeting between the two schools in football. Last season, Coosa fell at Trion 26-14. The Eagles are in search of their first victory over the Bulldogs since 2007.

“The Friday night lights are going to be new to a lot of them,” Mathis said. “Throw in the newness of me, the offense ... and defense that we’re trying to run, there’s going to be a lot of firsts on Friday night.”

Lakeview Academy (0-0) at Darlington (0-0), 7:30 p.m.

The Darlington Tigers open a new season at Chris Hunter Stadium as the Lakeview Academy Lions pay a visit to Floyd County. Head coach Tommy Atha enters his 19th year at the helm with expectations high for the Tigers. This will be the first meeting between the Lions and Tigers.

“We want to go into this thing and try to execute,” Atha said. “We know there’s going to breakdowns, but we want to make sure we don’t beat ourselves. Hopefully (we’ll) put points on the board when the opportunity presents itself.”

The Tigers begin a new season without quarterback Griffin Brewster, running back Kolin Rogers and offensive lineman Tate Ratledge, all of who have graduated.

This will be Darlington’s first time facing an opposing team since a playoff loss to Mount Paran Christian on Nov. 22, 2019.

“One of the things that’s been so much different is by this time, we’ve usually got at least one scrimmage, sometimes two scrimmages, under our belt,” Atha said. “We’re doing some good things in all phases and we’re doing some bad things in all phases.”

Model (0-1) at Lafayette, 7:30 p.m.

The Model Blue Devils are on the road for the second consecutive week, looking to rebound from a season-opening 20-14 overtime loss at Sonoraville last week. This week, the Lafayette Ramblers are on the docket.

“Don’t know a whole lot about Lafayette (and) don’t know what they have. We’re going into this one a little blind as well,” Blue Devils head coach Jeff Hunnicutt said. “We’re going to line up and go kind of with what we saw last year.”

From last week’s action, Hunnicutt said tackling has to improve, noting missed assignments on the field.

“We probably missed at least 20 tackles and that’s frustrating,” Hunnicutt said. “Offensively, I hope we cleaned a lot of our issues up, especially holding penalties.”

The Blue Devils and Ramblers have met on 14 previous occasions and Model maintains a 4-10 record. The last meeting saw a 18-16 Lafayette road victory in 2019.

Hunnicutt said a key to a Friday night win is continual growth from game one to game two.

“Eliminate turnovers, eliminate the dumb holding penalties, sustain more drives on offense,” Hunnicutt said. “Defensively ... we’ve got to tackle.”

Model’s last victory over Lafayette came in 2005. The Blue Devils have not won at Lafayette since 1988.

This will be the third straight seasonal meeting.

Heard County at Pepperell (0-1), 7:30 p.m.

The Pepperell Dragons and the Heard County Braves lock horns in a rematch of last season’s first-round state playoff game. The Dragons won on home turf 27-7.

“With everything we’ve been through in the last four, five months and just being able to play the game, it’s been a blessing,” Dragons head coach Rick Hurst said. “I told the guys last week they ought to feel lucky. We’re extremely lucky. Hopefully, we’ll be able to correct some mistakes and play a little bit better than we did last Friday.”

The Dragons are coming off a 28-10 season-opening loss at Haralson County last Friday.

Hurst spoke highly of Heard County running back Alex Boyd and the challenge he presents the Dragon defense.

“He’s a load,” Hurst said. “Runs extremely well downhill (and) has got some speed when he gets outside. We’ve got to do a real good job of wrapping up and maintain our gaps ... or it could be a long night for us.”

Hurst said last year’s starting quarterback Gage Moses, now a senior, suffered a torn lateral meniscus prior to the season opener and will be out for a majority of the season.

To fill his shoes, Pepperell opted to roll with two quarterbacks in Matthew Waddell and Tray Robinson last week against Haralson County. Hurst said that will continue Friday night.

“There’s so much upside to Matthew it’s just unbelievable. Great composure (and) great accuracy,” Hurst said. “I thought (Robinson) did a great job of running the offense and doing some things that are a little bit different than what Matthew does.”

Pepperell is 1-2 all time against Heard County. Hurst said the excitement for the home atmosphere in Lindale is evident.

“Hopefully, we’ll have a good crowd to support us,” Hurst said. “I know Heard’s going to bring a good crowd up (U.S.) Highway 27. It ought to be a good football game.”

Unity Christian (1-0) at Peachtree Academy, 7:30 p.m.

The Unity Christian Lions are back on the field as they prepare to travel to Covington to battle the Peachtree Academy Panthers. Head coach Nick Jones will have his seniors back for a tumultuous tilt with the two-time GAPPS defending state champions.

“This has turned into one of our rivalry games,” Jones said. “I fully expect it to be a very physical football game from the onset. We’re going to have to play at a really high level. We’re ready to go into battle with them.”

Unity Christian and Peachtree Academy are well-versed with one another. Last season, the two programs split with Unity taking the first contest 62-30. However, Peachtree flipped the script when the two schools met in the second round of the playoffs in November, falling 26-0.

“From summer workouts to preseason practices, this has been a game that’s been circled on our calendar,” Jones said. “We’re coming in with a chip on our shoulder and really something to prove. This is a game that I believe catapults our season into a state championship run, so you’ve got to go through the state championship winners to become a state champion.”

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