COVINGTON - To say that there's a lot at stake when Alcovy takes on North Clayton is an understatement.
The Tigers have already done what they had never done before by winning the Newton County championship.
Now, they go for another first as they try to win three games in a row as they prepare to start Region 4-AAAA play. Standing in their way from their first region win of the season and their first 3-0 start is Georgia Athletic Coaches Association Class No. 10- ranked North Clayton.
"The kids are aware of it, we can't say they're not. But as a coach and as a staff we talk to them and tell them this is the next game. It just happens to be a big game," Alcovy coach Kirk Hoffmann said. "I've challenged these kids to see if they could get up for three games in a row. It's something we've never had to do here and we're going to find that out."
Making the task especially difficult is the fact that it's hard to keep North Clayton from moving the ball.
Its running game is centered around 6-1, 200-pounder Clarence Jackson. If the Tigers are able to stop him, senior quarterback Milton Artis has a few speedy receivers that can make you pay for crowding the box.
"The kid (Jackson) is all ready committed to Ole Miss. So we've got a challenge for our defense," Hoffmann said. "They're not ranked No. 10 because they're one dimensional. They're very athletic and they have a good quarterback and a nice receiving core."
If Alcovy is to prevail, it will have to do so by working both sides of the ball well.
Offensively, it will have to keep its running game going which will allow the Tigers to use the clock to their advantage.
A big key to their running game is going to fall on the shoulders of sophomore running back Tre Sorrells and senior quarterback Rod Tolen.
"The last few games with Tre Sorrells, he has shown that he can do it. I feel comfortable with Chico Hardeman and some other kids that we'll make the right adjustments," Hoffmann said.
Defensively, Alcovy has to find a way of stopping Jackson from controlling the game.
"Because this kid is so big, we can't miss tackles," Hoffmann said. "We're going to have to swarm the football and the same thing all defenses have to do, no big plays.
"I don't think the word pressure is what its all about. I think you have to maintain that focus and intensity for three weeks in a row. I don't care what level you're talking about, college, high school, pros, it's what everybody talks about. How long can you maintain that focus? We're about to find out if we can."
Manny Fils can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
SideBar: At A Glance
· Who: Alcovy Tigers (2-0) at North Clayton Eagles (2-)
Where: Southern Crescent Stadium, 6237 Garden Walk Boulevard, Riverdale
· When: 7:30 p.m. Friday
· Last week: Alcovy defeated Eastside 3-0; North Clayton beat Banneker 28-
· Series: North Clayton leads 1-0
· Last year: North Clayton won 21-14