A couple of Northside rivals will renew their football rivalry when Pace Academy hosts Lovett in a Region 6AA game at Riverview Road Athletic Complex Oct. 1.
Pace has been the dominant team in the rivalry the last several years, winning three of its last four meetings with Lovett – including a 21-16 win at Lovett in 2020.
It is the renewal of a rivalry between two schools that are located less than three miles from one another in Buckhead.
For Lovett coach Mike Muschamp, the fact that Pace Academy is in the same region as the Lions adds something extra to the rivalry.
“I’d say it’s a pretty big rivalry,” Muschamp said. “Ever since we’ve been playing them, it’s been not just a local rivalry-type game, but it’s also a region game. So it’s got that little extra added flavor to it for everybody.”
It’s also a big game for coach Chris Slade and his Pace squad.
“I think it’s great for both schools that we can compete and be right down the street from one another,” Slade said. “I have the utmost respect for coach Muschamp and his teams. You know what you’re going to get They’re going to play hard. They’re going to be fundamentally sound. They’re not going to beat themselves. They’re well coached and well organized. We’ve had, literally, the last three games (against Lovett) come down to the last play of the game. Literally, like a fourth-and-one, and we’ve been fortunate to be on the good side of those. But all those games have literally gone down to the last play or two and I don’t expect this game to be different.”
Pace (1-3, 1-1 as of Sept. 24) has struggled early in the 2021 season with losses in its first three games before breaking into the win column with a 22-11 victory over McNair Sept. 17.
“I think we’re getting better,” Slade said. “Obviously, our record is not where we want it to be. Obviously, we want to be on the 3-1 side versus 1-3. But, the most important thing is that our team is getting better week by week. We’re making progress in some areas that need to be made. We got to stop turning the ball over. We’ve made way too many turnovers in the first few weeks at costly times. But I think we’re headed in the right direction. I feel good about this stretch of region games coming up.”
The Knights were scheduled to play at South Atlanta Sept. 24. Results from the game were not available at press time.
Meanwhile, Lovett (3-2, 2-1) will try to bounce back from a 34-33 loss to South Atlanta last week – their most recent game before entering a bye week.
The loss snapped a three-game winning streak for Lovett, which opened its season with a 17-7 loss to archrival Westminster Aug. 20.
“I feel good about where we are,” Muschamp said. “I was a little frustrated about losing to South Atlanta – I don’t feel like we played as well as we could – but they did a nice job and we didn’t rise up and meet the challenge the way we felt we should have. I’m excited about the last part of the season and hope we can come out of this bye week and get our legs back underneath us and get a couple of kids healthy.”
Senior middle linebacker Stevie Bracey, a Virginia commitment who had 14 tackles against South Atlanta leads the Lovett defense.
Senior linebacker/tight end Garrett Kelly is a key player on both offense and defense, while senior wide receivers Logan Givens and Alex Lindsay are the top pass catchers and seniors Will Stimmel, James Wahl and Luke Graham anchor both the offensive and defensive lines for the Lions.
Sophomore Terrance Kiel, a transfer from Campbell, has played a big role at cornerback, wide receiver and running back for Pace, while sophomore running back Christian Johnson and junior linebacker/running back Frank Caldwell have also been key players for the Knights.