McEachern quarterback Bryce Archie runs the ball last season against North Paulding. Archie, now No. 3, will try to get the offense back on track Friday when the Indians host nationally ranked Grayson at Walter Cantrell Stadium on Friday. 

Game: Grayson (1-0) at McEachern (0-1), 7:30 p.m.

Last meeting: Grayson 12, McEachern 7 (Sept. 1, 2017)

All-time series: Grayson leads 4-0

Prediction: Grayson 28, McEachern 20

McEachern will look to avoid its first 0-2 start since 2017 when it hosts Grayson at Walter Cantrell Stadium on Friday.

The Indians dropped their season opener 35-7 at North Gwinnett last week and coach Franklin Stephens expects to see a better showing from his Indians’ team tonight. The seven points was the lowest point total for the Indians their 2018 season-opening loss versus Colquitt County.

“I thought we played well in the first half,” he said. “We moved the ball well and had some big plays, but in the second half something just caught up with us against North Gwinnett. They’re a good team and they’re very well-coached. They’ve had a lot of success over the years, so we knew it would be a tough game, and it was.”

McEachern trailed only 13-7 late into the third quarter before North Gwinnett’s running game began to take over the game.

“I believe we can do a better job than what we saw last week,” Stephens said. “We have to do a better job of protecting (quarterback Bryce Archie) and opening up lanes for us to run the football. We also have to do a better job of defending the run, and I think we’ll get there.”

Grayson, the No. 6 team in the country according to USA Today and No. 1 in the state, enters Friday’s matchup with a 1-0 mark following its 51-13 win last week at Jones County. It was the most points scored by the Rams since totaling 59 against Shiloh in 2018.

“Grayson’s a school with college-type players up-and-down the roster,” Stephens said. “They have next level guys all over the place. They have team speed at every position on offense and defense with weapons at the skill positions.”

One of those players was former Indians’ quarterback Carlos Del Rio-Wilson, who transfered to Grayson during the offseason. Del Rio-Wilson lost his appeal with the GHSA on Tuesday and was ruled ineligible for his senior season. Even without him, the Rams roster is loaded with talent.

“They have ‘Holy Grail’ players that can score anytime they touch the ball. With that kind of speed and athleticism, they’re a matchup problem for anybody. They’re going to be a tough matchup for us. But I think our guys believe in themselves and they compete. As long as we can prevent the big plays, not turn the ball over and execute our plays well we’ll see how things shape up at the end.”

Stephens said he believes his players’ attitudes will be a key factor in how tonight’s game will play out.

“Our guys have a bitter taste from the other night,” Stephens said referring to last week’s loss. “When you work towards a goal and you don’t reap the rewards you have to deal with that. We have to channel what we’re feeling into this next game and move on. There’s a lot more football to be played.”

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