Game: Pope (1-0), at Walton (1-0), 7:30 p.m.
Last year: Walton 35, Pope 3
All-time series: Walton leads 18-7
Prediction: Walton 20, Pope 10
Pope had the final score of last year’s loss to Lassiter, “20-13,” written everywhere last week for the players to see. That was the motivation it needed for its rematch against the Trojans.
It was even typed on the scoreboard during practice.
The Greyhounds were not about to let another potential win over Lassiter slip away like they did a year ago. Instead, they took care of business and scored 10 unanswered points in the fourth quarter to secure a 24-3 victory.
Now, Pope has another east Cobb rival on the horizon when it heads to Raider Valley to face Walton, which has lost only four times in the last two-plus seasons.
When coach Tab Griffin was asked earlier in the week if he was going to post “35-3,” as a reminder of Pope’s lopsided loss to Walton a year ago, he said he would find another tactic.
“Pope and Walton are rivals, the kids understand that,” Griffin said. “Really for us, we’re trying to get better from last week. For us, it’s about cleaning up first-game mistakes and jitters. We want to get as good as we can get going into region play.”
Pope dictated play on the ground with Joe Stellmach rushing for 140 yards and a touchdown, while its defense limited the Trojans to a field goal.
But it is the little things Pope is looking to correct, such as lining up properly and holding on to the football. Much of their mishaps have stemmed from players playing unfamiliar positions.
Meanwhile, Walton is attempting to get rid of the bad taste of losing to Collins Hill at home on the final play of the game last Friday.
While the Raiders made an impressive fourth-quarter comeback against Norcross a week ago, Collins Hill did the same to them Saturday.
Walton had taken a 10-6 lead on a KD Stokes touchdown run, a Conor Cummins field goal and its defense had not yielded a touchdown.
That was until Collins Hill converted a 9-yard touchdown pass as time expired.
“Obviously, last week stings,” Walton coach Daniel Brunner said. “There are a lot of things about last week’s loss that stings, but we’re getting better day by day. We were fortunate to find a way the first week and couldn’t do it the second week. We got a lot of mistakes on film that we need to get cleaned up.”