St. Francis (0-3) is in its third year as a program and playing in its first full varsity season. However, the Knights are playing a non-region schedule this year, and are expected to transition into Region 6A with the Wolfpack in the future.
Like many young programs, St. Francis has struggled to pick up victories over its first three seasons, but the Knights don’t lack the potential to win games as evidenced by a narrow 35-28 loss to Mount Vernon Presbyterian on Aug. 31.
“We can’t listen to the hype (that the Wolfpack are expected to beat St. Francis),” Whitefield Academy coach Jimmy Fields said. “Yeah, St. Francis is a young program, but their kids work hard. Their coaches do a wonderful job, and it’s obvious when you watch them on film, they’re well-coached. They have a great plan offensively and defensively.
“When you think about it, we’re a developing program, too, that has struggled over the last couple of years in the win-loss column. Our seniors haven’t played in the playoffs since their freshman year, so our football team doesn’t have a lot of experience with wins or success. So, this is new, and we’re trying to develop something and build something. So, I don’t think we’re anywhere near the point of looking past somebody.”
Whitefield’s contest against St. Francis could be one of many in the future once the Knights officially play a Region 6A schedule. St. Francis is slated to be in the same sub-region with the Wolfpack. along with North Cobb Christian, Mount Paran Christian and Walker.
“St. Francis is in our region, but this is technically a non-region game,” Fields said. “It’s (St. Francis’) first season of playing varsity football, and they’re an up-and-coming program that in three short years has developed a good program. They have some very talented players. It’s still early, and we’re talking about only the third game, but they’re a very solid opponent that presents potential challenges for us.
“Our main focus is on ourselves and trying to correct some things. It was an unfortunate loss for us that first week (a 24-8 loss at Pace Academy), but when we look at the tape, there were a lot of things that we did well that we liked. We won big last week (41-0 at Riverside Military Academy), but looking at the tape, we made mistakes that we need to fix. We’re focusing on that this week.”
Whitefield is also focusing on finishing games and playing for 48 minutes. Fields liked some of what he saw from his players against Pace and other things in the win over Riverside. The Wolfpack want to see it all come together against St. Francis.
“I think we learned from the first week how to finish some things,” Fields said. “We had some inconsistency in our first game against Pace. We’re taking small steps, so finishing that first half on offense, defense and in the kicking game was big for us.
“Coach (John) Hunter, our defensive coordinator, had a great plan (against St. Francis). His kids executed the plan, and that was a real difference maker for us. The credit goes to those kids for executing so well.”