CALHOUN, Ga. — There are two things the opposing coaches agree about concerning tonight's premier matchup in the GHSA Class AA football playoffs.
On the obvious side, coaches Hal Lamb of Calhoun and Tim Hardy of Greater Atlanta Christian say the game pitting the pair of top-five-ranked 10-1 teams should be terrific. Each also says the postseason history between the two programs is irrelevant.
"That was so long ago and so much has changed since then that I don't see how it matters," Lamb said of GAC's 2-0 record at Phil Reeve Stadium, the last matchup coming in 2007. "None of the kids that will play Friday were here, and most of the coaches have changed. I know our kids aren't paying any attention to it."
While Hardy would love history to repeat itself, the second-year Spartans coach laughs at the idea that the past will factor into tonight's game.
"Our players were in the sixth grade, so no, it's not going to make a difference," Hardy said. "We've made it a priority to focus on 2013 all year, and this game is our focus this week. It's two great football teams, and each will do what it does best and try to win the game."
The recent past, however, does say much about the closeness of tonight's matchup. Calhoun is averaging better than 40 points per game in its wins, while GAC has averaged 57. The teams' only losses were to teams ranked No. 1 or No. 2 in their classes.
"They are very good across the board, and if we don't eliminate our mistakes they will beat us," said Lamb, whose team has not lost at home since that 2007 game. "They have a great tailback (Micah Abernathy), quarterback (Rafe Chapple) and one of the best receivers we've seen (Darius Slayton), so it's going to be a tremendous challenge.
"It's a really tough matchup for the second round."
If there is anything significant about the last meeting between the two, it's that it sparked tremendous change within the Calhoun program. The 27-6 loss was the Jackets' final game running the wing-T offense, a move that has sparked the program's run of five consecutive state-final appearances.
"Yes, things have changed a lot since the 2007 game," Lamb said. "It was a turning point for us going to the spread because it allows our athletes to make plays in space. We'll need those plays Friday."
Contact Lindsey Young at email@example.com or at 423-757-6296.
Lindsey Young is a sports writer at the Chattanooga Times Free Press who started work at the Chattanooga News-Free Press 24 years ago. He covers the Northwest Georgia prep beat and NASCAR. Lindsey’s hometown is Ringgold, Ga., and he graduated from Lakeview-Fort Oglethorpe High School. He received an associate’s degree from Dalton Junior College (now Dalton State) and a bachelor’s degree in communications from UTC. He has won several writing awards, including two Tennessee Sports ...