The fifth-ranked Trojans hit the road to The Battlefield today for the long-awaited Region 5-AAAA showdown at top-ranked Sandy Creek in an 8 p.m. encounter for the Region 5-AAAA crown and a No. 1 state playoff seed, which are just a few storylines in a rematch of the 2010 Class AAA state championship game.
The pair of Class AAAA titans have steamrolled their way through the region schedule up to this point, with neither Sandy Creek (8-0, 5-0 Region 5-AAAA) nor Carrollton (6-2, 5-0) getting tested with a full, four-quarter contest through five games.
Of course, Trojan coach Rayvan Teague expects all that to change this evening.
“We’d like to have to make them play all four quarters and to play it out and be under duress to see how they do. But the main reason they haven’t played a tight game yet is because nobody’s even comparable to them. They’ve played some good teams, but they’ve just made everybody look silly,” Teague said.
Carrollton enters the game as underdogs — the Maxwell Projections courtesy of Georgia High School Football Daily have Sandy Creek listed as a 13-point favorite — and the Trojan players are embracing the opportunity to compete in the hostile, playoff-like atmosphere The Battlefield will undoubtedly present come kickoff.
“It keeps on growing. I mean, you’re starting to think about what you’re doing. Maybe some guys start to get a little bit scared, a little bit nervous. But I feel we’re ready to play. I’m really looking forward to it,” noted Carrollton junior offensive lineman Jake Sanders.
Sandy Creek has been a dynamic force on the state scene since 2008, sporting an impeccable 60-3 record during that time, including winning the Class AAAA state title in 2009 and the AAA crown the following year in a 14-7 victory over Carrollton at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta.
The Patriots are the favorites to win a state championship once again this year behind a bevy of Division I talent on both sides of the ball. As for tonight’s matchup, Teague said his team may be the underdog, but he is confident the Trojans are more than capable of coming out on top.
“I think that on the hoof, they are probably a heavy favorite because of the type of players that they have and the reputation of those players with five SEC commits and stuff. But in those situations, it still comes down to executing a game plan, it comes down to playing hard and not making a lot of mental mistakes,” Teague said. “That’s what our kids have got to do. In order for us to have a chance to compete with them and ultimately beat them, we have to play, basically, perfect. We have to do it in all three phases.”
The game falls at a good time for Carrollton in that it’s allowed many of its young, first-year starters to get a feel of the big-game atmosphere in early-season contests against Oxford (Ala.) and Class AA No. 1 Calhoun, not to mention heal up some injuries.
From a fan’s perspective, the late-season, luck-of-the-draw scheduling made for a lot of hype in leading up to tonight’s ball game through five region tilts, and Carrollton is hopeful of giving its followers a big win this late this evening.
Teague said it will be a raucous environment at The Battlefield, with both fan bases coming out in strong numbers.
“We did it earlier in the year at Calhoun and I think the Sandy Creek fans will be even more fired up and probably have even larger numbers than maybe we did at Calhoun. Now Calhoun was a big, packed house, but this one means a little bit more. So I expect it to be a little bit rowdier and more animated on both sides,” Teague said.
“It’s a playoff-type game here right at the end for a region championship. I would say our first round or second-round game will not be any more attended than what we’re going to get Friday night and our opponent won’t be any better.”