To their credit, the No. 5 Trojans (6-2, 5-0 Region 5-AAAA) haven’t endured many offensive shortcomings this year, either, averaging 42 points per contest through eight games. Of course, Carrollton hasn’t faced too many defenses — if any — that will present the challenge that the No. 1 Patriots (8-0, 5-0) bring to the table this week.
“I think they present a really good challenge — but we love challenges. I’m so fired up. I think all of our guys are fired up. I just think it’s going to be a good night for us,” noted Trojan junior offensive lineman Jake Sanders.
Sandy Creek’s strength on the front line comes in the form of junior defensive tackle Chris Williams, a Division I recruit that leads the squad with 7.5 sacks, and fellow interior tackle Michael Henderman, a 6-foot-3, 315-pound senior.
Shoring up the secondary is senior Shaq Wiggins, an ultra-athletic cornerback that has committed to the University of Georgia. He is complemented by a pair of linebackers in Khari Lain and Wesley Sullivan, along with safety Corey Griffin.
“I think they’re really good, especially on the inside. Their two defensive tackles — one’s gigantic — 6-4, 315. The other one [Williams] is a junior that’s committed to an SEC school that’s 6-2, about 270, and can really move and is a great player. So they’re very formidable inside,” Carrollton coach Rayvan Teague said. “Then they have good speed at the linebacker corp and the safeties and stuff. They have the corner committed to Georgia ... They have a very good defense.”
Trojan junior wing back Trey Chivers leads a cast in the Carrollton backfield that has gotten stronger as the year’s gone on. Combining speed and power, Chivers leads the Trojan rushing attack with 655 yards and 10 touchdowns on 75 carries, an average of 8.7 yards per rush. He also paces the Trojans in the passing game with 11 receptions for 307 yards and three touchdowns, two of which came in last week’s 48-0 home win over Alexander.
Chivers said while Sandy Creek proves be a tougher defense than his team has probably seen all year — the Patriots are allowing a region-best 11 points per game — he is confident the Trojans can move the chains and get their fair share of scores.
“I mean, they’ve got some Division I talent, but we’ve just got to block them. We’ve got to get on them and stay on them,” Chivers said. “If we stay on our blocks and block them all night, we should be fine.”
Chivers and fellow Trojan skill guys will be relying on Sanders and his comrades in the trenches to do the dirty work on Friday night against a fierce Sandy Creek defensive front.
“It’ll be big, just because they have a high-powered offense. We know that they can score a lot. So if we can chew down as much clock as possible and score some points for our defense, it’ll make it a lot easier on them,” Sanders said.
Teague compared Sandy Creek’s defense to that of Oxford (Ala.), which beat Carrollton in the season opener in a 21-17 contest that saw the Trojans get shut out in the second half.
Of course, that was the first big game for a lot of young Carrollton players that were getting their varsity start. Since then, the Trojans have played another big game — this one on the road — at No. 1 Calhoun. Carrollton has scored at least 35 points in every game since the season-opening loss.
“We didn’t put points on the board in the second half. We stayed at 17 [against Oxford]. I think defensively [Sandy Creek] is very comparable to Oxford. I think we’ll get that same kind. They’re not going to give up a bunch of points. They gave up 26 to Shaw, but other than that, they’ve only given up two touchdowns or less against every opponent. Most of the times just one, maybe two. But that’s in a big blowout. Kind of like what we’ve done, too,” Teague said. “So, definitely, they’ve been very stingy with points.”
Field position and the kicking game will also serve as critical contributing factors into the outcome Friday, but in a game of this caliber, it’s who executes and makes the least amount of mistakes that will ultimately come out on top.
“Like coach Teague always says, ‘The man who executes his job and does his job to perfection will always win the game.’ And that’s true. You’ve got to do it in all phases — special teams, offense and defense,” Sanders said. “We’ve got to be perfect, we’ve got to be crisp and we can’t make any mistakes. One mistake could be the game-changing mistake. It’s as simple as that. It could win or lose the game for us.”