(Editor’s note: We were filled with so much anticipation over Grady High‘s regional clash with Cedar Grove tonight that we asked a sportswriter from the national-award-winning Southerner newspaper, Mason Gepp, to give us a sneak preview of the game. Here’s Gepp’s take on the game, and the keys to victory.)
For the Region 5B-AAA champion Grady Grey Knights, this season’s in-playoff game is a rematch of last year’s dual against the Cedar Grove Saints. This second playoff matchup is shaping up to be an offensively driven test for both teams as they play at Grady Stadium tonight at 8 pm.
Last season the Knights were able to topple the Saints in a 27-20 victory. This year, both teams have enjoyed impressive seasons with winning records and strong play on both offense and defense. The Knights, however, seem to enjoy an advantage in this matchup based on their electrifying offensive play this season. The Knights have outscored their opponents 379-83 – averaging 42.1 points per game. The leadership of collegiate prospects Damian Swann (wide receiver-defensive back) and Marcus Caffey (running back) has catapulted this year’s team to scoring more than 50 points in four of the team’s nine games – leaving the Knights with an 8-1 record. (There’s even talk of Caffey and Swann joining up as a package deal to play for the University of Georgia, according to the AJC.)
Cedar Grove has worked toward a successful season, though their record of 6-3 doesn’t match that of Grady. While they have outscored their opponents 279-158, the Saints have allowed almost twice as many points per game as the Knights – giving up 17.6 points compared to Grady’s 9.2.
The Saints’ offensive output (31 points per game), while impressive, pales compared to Grady. And while stats can never predict the outcome to a game, especially a game of this caliber, Grady’s star-studded lineup on both sides of the ball in addition to their statistical advantage make the Knights a favorite.
Grady head coach Ronnie Millen has utilized a balanced offense consisting of a strong passing game led by senior quarterback Treveon Albert and Swann, an AJC Super 11 pick. And with a ground game that has been dominated by Caffey, as well as the secondary running back, Hoderick Lowe, the Knights have been able to dominate their opponents. The running game was most notable in the Knights’ 7-6 win over their region rival, St. Pius X two weeks ago when Caffey ran for a 70-yard, game-winning touchdown. Albert has passed for 17 touchdowns, Lowe has rushed for 11 touchdowns, Caffey has rushed for 10 touchdowns and Swann has caught 10 touchdown passes.
Last year’s matchup between these two playoff rivals ended victoriously for the Knights. And while Grady is preparing to best the Saints to make it to the playoffs for the second year in a row, you can be sure that the Saint’s will be prepared. Expect both teams to put their stars on the field come Friday night, as an offensive matchup will decide the playoff fate of both teams.