Four of the current coaches at Spalding — Ashmore, offensive coordinator Rodney Ellerbee, offensive line coach Greg Crawford and quarterbacks coach Mickey Moody — coached at Jackson at one time or another under Red Devils head coach Mike Parris, who has been at Jackson 14 years.
Of course, Ashmore and Parris go back to 1988 as assistants at Forest Park. But enough about coaches and past ties and on to the main point: What is the statistical probability the Jaguars break their five-year playoff drought tonight?
Simply put, there are eight possible scenarios. The Jags get in one seven of them. However, they don’t advance in the most likely scenario -- if teams higher in the standings win out.
How’s that for irony?
Here’s the breakdown. The Jags (5-4 overall, 5-2 Region 4-AAA) get in if any one of three things happens:
n They beat two-time Region 4-AAA champ and No. 6-state ranked Jackson (9-0, 7-0).
n Third-place Woodward Academy (6-3, 5-2) beats second-place Woodland-Stockbridge (7-2, 6-1).
n Or sixth-place Jackson-Atlanta (2-6, 2-4) defeats fifth-place Mary Persons (6-3, 4-3).
Of course, if all the teams higher in the standings — Jackson, Woodland and Mary Persons — win out, the Jaguars don’t make the playoffs.
Meanwhile, closer to home Steve DeVoursney and his No. 1-state ranked Bears (9-0 overall, 7-0 Region 4-AAAA) will take on current Griffin resident and former Spalding High head coach (2000-2005) and Jackson High assistant Kirk Hoffmann when Hoffmann brings his fourth-place Alcovy High Tigers (7-2,5-2 ) to town.
Both teams have already clinched a state playoff berth, so this will merely serve as a tune-up for next week’s state playoff opener. It’s the first time Alcovy, in its fourth year of existence, has qualified for the state playoffs. Griffin, meanwhile, has tied a school record for consecutive playoff appearances (9) set by Lloyd Bohannon-coached teams from 1984-92.
Across town, in GISA football action, Griffin Christian (7-3), fresh off its biggest win in school history -- a 20-14 double overtime victory against Flint River for the Region 4-AA championship -- plays its first state playoff game ever when Robert Toombs Academy (7-3) visits.
N Spalding at Jackson: The Jags have always played Jackson High tough. But can they do the unthinkable -- march into Red Devil Hill and win against a team that hasn’t lost its past 19 regular season games and has a pair of region championships to show for it?
Yes, because they have a lot more to lose and a lot more to gain. In a barn burner… Jags 18-17.
N Alcovy at Griffin: Alcovy’s defense has been its strength during a season where the Tigers have outscored opponents by an average of 16-8. However, they haven’t seen anything like Griffin yet.
The Bears, which boast the region’s top rated defense and offense, are outscoring folks by an average of 38-5. In a crisp tune-up… Bears 24-10.
N Robert Toombs at Griffin Christian: Other than the fact Robert Toombs likes to throw and Griffin Christian prefers to run, these teams are almost mirror images.
Both sport 7-3 records. Both have players about the same size. GCHS has outscored its opponents by an average 27-17, while RTA has outscored its opponent by an average of 25-12. And GCHS has a third-year head coach, while RTA has a second-year head coach.
Heck, they even have the same nickname: Crusaders. That all adds up to mean a two-and-a-half hour bus ride will make the difference… Griffin Christian 21-17.
(Sullivan is the sports editor at the Griffin Daily News).