It will be Marist hosting game two as the War Eagles take on the Lions at Hughes-Spalding Stadium Friday at 7:30 p.m.
Marist came away with the win in the inaugural matchup in 2012, defeating Lovett 24-16 at the Riverbank.
With the two schools having played each other a number of times at the lower grade levels, Lovett coach Mike Muschamp is looking to establish a rivalry on the varsity level.
“It’s going to be a great matchup,” Muschamp said. “Coach [Alan] Chadwick always does a great job. Their kids play hard and I hope our kids can match their level of intensity and execution and come away with the win.”
Chadwick also sees potential in the budding rivalry.
“[Lovett has] a great program,” Chadwick said. “They’re well coached. A lot of our kids know a lot of their players and it makes for a very good natural rivalry, so to speak.”
Both teams have maintained their place among the state elite in the early stages of the 2013 season, with Marist (1-1) ranked fourth in Class AAAA and Lovett (2-0) sixth in AA in last week’s Georgia Sports Writers Association state poll.
The Lions — who are coming off of a bye week — already have a couple of wins over AAA powers under their belts — defeating Woodward 21-14 in their season opener Aug. 23 and Blessed Trinity 14-3 in their most recent game Aug. 30.
Marist lost to Thomas County Central 28-21 last Friday after starting its season with a 29-16 win over Clarke Central Aug. 30.
Lovett will present a strong challenge to the Marist defense with its array of offensive playmakers, including running backs Grant Haley and Jay Harris and quarterback Willie Candler.
Haley scored on a 95-yard punt return against Blessed Trinity and ran for two touchdowns the week before in the win over Woodward.
Candler threw for two touchdowns against Woodward and one more in the Blessed Trinity game, while Harris rushed for 148 and 91 yards respectively in the first two contests.
“They have a very dangerous offense,” Chadwick said. “The quarterback [Candler] is back for a second year as a starter, so he’s more mature and polished and confident. Grant Haley is just a dynamic player in every phase of the game and the No. 1 concern is how to contain him on special teams and offense.
“Every time he touches the ball, he’s a threat to score from anywhere on the field. They have other weapons as well, so they’re a dangerous team offensively.”
Marist is led by running backs Marcus Mitchell and Griffin King and quarterback Chase Martensen, who ran for 125, 117 and 103 yards, respectively, against Clarke Central, while Georgia commitment Kendall Baker anchors both the offensive and defensive lines.
“The first thing you think of Marist is their option offense and how well they execute,” Muschamp said. “They did a great job against us last year. Defensively, they’re just a hard-nosed, well-coached group of kids who play hard on every single play and our job is to keep up the level of intensity for 48 minutes.”