“You know they are going to be talented and they play hard — that has always been the case,” Davis, himself a former All-State standout for the Bears, said of Griffin. “It’s always going to be a hard-fought game.”
The most recent meeting between the two teams, a 3-0 Griffin win in overtime, was no exception.
“With it being a rivalry game, I expect both teams to come out real high emotionally and play a hard-fought game all night,” added Davis.
Nonetheless, Spalding (1-6-1), which clinched last place in Region 4-AAAA Div. A with a 12-0 homecoming loss last week to North Clayton — its sixth loss in a row this season — faces a stiff task against No. 8-state ranked Griffin (7-1), which clinched first place in the subregion with a 28-14 win last week at Upson-Lee.
Griffin, which is averaging a region-leading 35 ppg for, is noted for big playing opponents this season. Griffin, which trailed 16-7 at the half in the opener at Dutchtown, outscored the Bulldogs 35-0 in the second half for a 42-16 win. Griffin jumped out to a 22-0 lead in the first half at Northgate the next week on the way to a 35-7 win before rallying from a two-score deficit in the fourth quarter to top top-10 ranked Jonesboro 34-33 in the third game of the season.
Trailing 33-20 at Woodland Stockbridge, Griffin scored on its next three possessions to put the game away and pocket a 52-20 victory in the fourth game. In the sixth game of the season, Griffin jumped out to a 28-0 lead at Riverdale on the way to a 35-14 win. The Bears scored on the first play of the second quarter to take a 28-0 lead on homecoming night against North Clayton two week ago on the way to a 42-20 win and then jumped out to a 21-0 lead at Upson-Lee last week on the way to the aforementioned victory.
“Hopefully we can come out and play early and not give up the big play,” said Davis. “You look at them and they get a lot of big plays in a game, so we’re going to try to minimize that. Hopefully we can cause some turnovers — get some interceptions or fumble recoveries — and give out offense the ball with a short field to work with.
“Hopefully we can take some time off the clock and punch something in,” Davis said of a tactic Stockbridge — which dealt Griffin its only loss this season 17-14 on a field goal with no time left on the clock — used successfully against the Bears, “and not hurt or hinder ourselves in the kicking game. If we can do that we should have a shot.”
Spalding, however, has been struggling this season, averaging a region-low 7 ppg for.
Davis said he won’t tell his offense anything different than he tells it every week: “We have to execute, we can’t have busted plays and can’t make mistakes.”
“We’ve a team that has to do everything perfectly to have a shot,” said Davis. “That’s what our kids have to understand for us to be successful. we’re not a team that’s going to come out and big-play you to death. We have to execute on every play.”
Both teams, meanwhile, are similar statistically on the other side of the ball where Spalding allows 18 ppg against and Griffin allows 17 ppg against.
Spalding, however, has been hampered in the kicking game recently, losing punter Powell Krepps several weeks back when he left the team and kicker Jake Jeffcoat to an injury the last few weeks.
“We’ll use freshman Trey Gregory on PATs and close-range field goals,” said Davis.