Friday's Prep Football PicksBy The Newnan Times-Herald Sports Staff
Editor’s Note: For tonight’s East Coweta-Newnan game, we've listed below why we think each school will win. Northgate’s prediction will appear in Saturday’s edition.
Last week: 4-1. Overall: 36-10 (.782)
The Heritage School Hawks (8-1, 3-1) at Trinity Christian Lions (6-3, 3-1): It’s only the second football game between the two schools, but the atmosphere should be electric with a GISA Region 2-AAA championship still on the line.
Last year’s initial meeting — played in September — began with much the same atmosphere, but ended in a whimper. Tonight, nobody should feel the urge to leave early.
A group of 12 sophomores, a majority who were around Trinity coaches Chris Hanson and J.P. Weaver during their one season with the Hawks, have emerged into arguably the most well-rounded senior class Heritage has produced in its seven seasons of football.
The Lions, meanwhile, have regrouped while adding new faces to its lineup over the offseason, seniors Jay Warner and Drew Gibson among them.
Make no mistake, Trinity has turned the corner in just its second year while looking much like a team that won an 8-man championship two years ago while going unbeaten.
But continuity may make the difference for Heritage. Players like Candler Rich and Joe Bonner have been flinging the football between one another since they were in elementary school. And with another year under coaches Kevin Prisant and D.J. Clay, it just seems like its the Hawks’ time to raise their first varsity football trophy. HAWKS 28, LIONS 24.
ICSGA 8-Man Semifinals
CrossPointe Christian Cavaliers (7-2) vs. Heritage Christian Crusaders (9-1) at Arlington Christian: The Crusaders began this season feeling as if they last year’s first-round playoff game against CrossPointe slip away from them. After dominating in league play by an average margin of 58-22, we don’t see any signs of Heritage Christian stopping now. CRUSADERS 55, CAVALIERS 38.
Why they’ll win – NEWNAN
If Newnan didn’t have enough fuel for revenge tonight ...
Even before the despicable actions of less than a handful of mindless East Coweta followers in the wee hours of Thursday morning (see our front page), the Cougars had plenty of motivation for tonight.
They’ve been waiting anxiously for a year to make up for another potential victory that slipped through its fingers.
Riding an eight-game winning streak against East Coweta, Newnan had No. 9 in hand while leading 19-0 at halftime — at home — only to lose 28-25 following a late Indians touchdown on a busted play and a missed Cougar field goal.
Just watching the video might be enough to storm the field like gangbusters.
But here’s where Newnan has thrived. They’ve found ways to win in difficult situations and games where momentum hasn’t always been in its favor. There’s been comebacks to beat Marietta, LaGrange and Troup during the non-region schedule.
The Cougars’ two losses have come against teams (Sandy Creek, Langston Hughes) with a combined 17-1 record that will both be hoisting region championship trophies this year.
Some like East Coweta have made things close — but haven’t finished the job.
In a year where both teams have been separated statistically by single-digits in scoring averages, it could come down to whichever team can stay the course. Newnan’s defense is coming off its first shutout effort of the season where the Cougars made seven tackles for loss and pressured the quarterback 17 times. That could throw Indians first-year quarterback Bryce Gemmel for a loop even after posting a 300-yard game last week.
If Newnan has its way, this one won’t be close. COUGARS 35, INDIANS 21.
Why they'll win – East Coweta
Football games are won on the field, not in pranks or social media.
As far as how East Coweta’s lineup has performed in those situations, there’s something to be said about how a young team responds to adversity.
The Indians, coming off a year where the program lost 32 seniors and needed to replace 19 starters, sat at 1-4 after four games heading into the Region 3-AAAAAA schedule.
They’ve righted themselves in a hurry.
Outside of a loss at Langston Hughes — one where the Indians stood a better chance against the Panthers than Newnan did the previous week at home — East Coweta has been able to put the foot on the gas pedal when needed. There was two shut out quarters at Westlake, a complete effort in a blowout of Tri-Cities as well as last week’s quick start over Douglas County.
The loss to Hughes, while disappointing, was one where the Indians felt they were their own worst enemy.
Through both the highs and losses this season, they have had players step it up and become leaders. Dee Godfrey is getting ready to close out his final regular season game as the Indians leading rusher for the third straight year.
After going through is share of growing pains as the first-year starter at quarterback, Bryce Gemmel has only gotten better. Gemmel has shown he can throw the ball around a little bit, but also call his own number and pick up yardage with his legs. A week ago in the victory against Douglas County, Gemmel nearly rushed for 100 yards.
Kicker Spencer Smith has the ability to change kick game. The senior has booted the ball through the end zone for touchdown backs numerous times this season, forcing teams to march 80 yards.
Playing a home on the Garland Shoemake Stadium tuf could also give the Indians a real advantage. INDIANS 27, COUGARS 21