The Patriots hit the road this Friday night as they face the Lakeview-Ft. Oglethorpe Warriors of Region 7-AAAA North. Although this is a region game, it will not figure in to the playoff standings due to the new sub-region format. This game is the first of two region crossover games for the Patriots, and will no doubt be another stern test for the Patriots.
LFO, ranked #13 in the latest AP Class AAAA poll and #1 in the Chattanooga area, returns 18 starters (8 offense - 10 defense) from last year's playoff team. The strength of this year's team is its defense, led by three-year starters at DT Eric Dunn (5-11 230 4.9) and Nick Tanner (6-0 303 5.2), DE Nathan Murdock (6-0 220 4.5) and LB Andrew Parson (6-0 215 4.. They are an aggressive and hard-hitting defense that will make things very difficult for a young Patriots offense trying to establish its identity.
Rushing yards will be tough to come by against the LFO defense, as they allowed only 23 yards rushing during their opening-game 23-15 victory over the McCallie School of Tennessee. The Patriots' offensive line has got to start living up to its billing and begin driving the opposition off the ball in order to give their backs some running room. If they are unable to do that, the Patriots will have to go to the air to move the ball, and that is something they have not been successful with so far. However, LFO allowed 382 yards passing to a sophomore QB against McCallie, so they may be susceptible to the pass. If the Patriots are forced in to a passing game early in the contest, look for sophomore QB Zach Sims (6-0 170 4.6) to enter the game this week. Playing the strong-armed Sims at QB would allow the coaches to move Daniel Dickson (5-7 150 4.4) to either HB or WR to take advantage of his speed on the corners.
Offensively the Warriors return starting TB Jermaine Williams (5-7 180 4.6) who led the team with 120 yards rushing on only 9 carries against McCallie. They also have a bruising FB in Cadarius Lawrence (6-0 220 4.6), and a veteran offensive line to lead the way. The Patriots defense has got to have a chance to rest if they are going to be successful in stopping LFO's offense. If they are forced to remain on the field as long as they did against Marist, it will be difficult for them to keep the Patriots in the game. LFO is a running team like Marist, and gained similar yardage in their victory over McCallie (236 rushing and 55 passing). If they are able to stay with their running game, they will wear down the Patriots' defense, and put a lot of points on the board.
It is obvious from the first two games that the defense will have to carry the team until the offense gets things going. If the Patriots can somehow get to a plus three turnover margin, and the offense puts some points on the board early, they may be able to pull off the upset over the heavily favored Warriors. However, if the offense continues to put the ball on the ground and fails to sustain their drives, it will be a long bus ride home Friday night. The game starts at 7:30 PM, and for directions to LFO, go to the www.pchsfootball.org on the Schedule/Results page and click on the LFO helmet.
This post has been edited by james_mills: 01 September 2004 - 01:21 PM