Both squads enter the contest with question marks regarding their ability to play a full 48-minute game. Fifth-ranked Lassiter started with a strong first half in its season-opening win against Hillgrove last week, but nearly let the lead get away.
The Trojans jumped out to a 37-0 halftime lead, only to see the Hawks storm back with 29 unanswered points. Lassiter managed to hold onto the ball for the final four minutes of the contest to keep Hillgrove at bay and claim a 37-29 win.
“I hope they learn that as good a first half as they played,” Lassiter coach Jep Irwin said about his team. “They need to maintain that focus throughout the game and the second half. The final score is what matters, and Hillgrove was making a big run at us.
“So, scoreboard watching isn’t something I want going on. The kids have to be focused and not get complacent because they have a lead. I’m pleased with how we finished the game, but we need to play better early in the second half.”
According to Irwin, the Trojans didn’t play poorly as a whole. He likes that the team was able to start fast and generate points in bunches, but he would also like to see more consistency.
“The middle of that game was dicey for us,” he said.
Sprayberry has had its issues too. In a 10-7 loss to Wheeler two weeks ago, the Yellow Jackets scored their lone touchdown in the third period.
Problems continued in a 28-24 loss at Kennesaw Mountain last week. Sprayberry trailed 21-0 in the third quarter before finally springing to life. The Yellow Jackets came all the way back to take a 24-21 fourth quarter lead, but saw it slip away and fell 28-24.
“The way I see it, we’re like 0-2 in the first half and 2-0 in the second,” Sprayberry coach Billy Shackelford said. “We’re doing the right things in the second half, but we have to work on not starting the game so slowly. We have to play and coach with a sense of urgency right out of the gate and sound the alarm from the start.
“We’re a few points away from being 2-0. We’re a good team. We just need to learn to play four quarters of football and treat every quarter as if it’s the last.”
Winning tonight’s matchup could prove problematic for Sprayberry, which has been outscored by Lassiter 32 - 17.3 over the past four seasons. The last time the Yellow Jackets opened the season at 0-3 was back in 2008, but they ran off seven consecutive wins en route to a region championship.
So, while another loss would signal a bad start for the Yellow Jackets, it
wouldn’t signal a bad season.
“I don’t see Sprayberry as reeling even though they’re 0-2,” Irwin said. “They lost two close games with a young group of players. They’re a capable team, just inconsistent like we were last week.”