Christian Heritage (6-2, 2-1)
at Trion (5-2, 2-1)
Christian Heritage coach Preston Poag and Trion coach Justin Brown can pinpoint the significance of tonight’s Sub-Region 6A-A matchup in one word.
“It’s big,” Poag said.
Said Brown, “It’s huge.”
At Sam R. McCain Memorial Stadium in Trion, the visiting Lions and their hosts will be battling for second place in the sub-region and the chance to play the No. 3 team from Sub-Region 6B-A next week, when 6A-A teams will host all of the region’s crossover games.
Darlington has the No. 1 seed from 6A-A wrapped up, having beaten the Lions and Bulldogs earlier this season.
“That’s why it’s a big deal for both of us,” said Poag, whose team has given up just 48 points in the past seven games after losing 35-28 to Model in the season opener. “You’ve got to position yourself for the playoffs.”
For the Georgia High School Association’s Class A teams, whether they make the state playoffs — which are split into separate 16-team brackets for private and public schools — depends on either winning a region title or finishing high enough in the GHSA’s power rankings, which factor in victories and strength of schedule. Winning region is out of the question now for both Christian Heritage and the Bulldogs.
Trion, 14-5 under Brown in two seasons, has won two in a row since losing 42-14 to Darlington.
“They played well against us last year,” Poag said. “They’re a power football team that runs the wing-T. Last year they were the only team that manhandled us and they ran it down our throats. We have to stop their quarterback (Cory Bethune).
“This year nobody has manhandled us. We gave Model two touchdowns and Darlington beat us by four points. We should be undefeated.”
One major concern for the Lions is Trion’s offensive line, which averages between 260 and 270 pounds, Brown said.
“We’re blessed with that size up there,” Brown said. “We’ve got four seniors and a junior in the line, and we try to take advantage of their size and wear people down.”
However, Brown said the Lions’ offense, which averages 368.8 total yards and a sub-region best 35.6 points, presents his Bulldogs with a tremendous challenge.
“They’re probably the best we’ve faced this season,” Brown said.