If you’re Stockbridge, you simply suit and go play and the better team will emerge victorious when all the dust clears on Friday night.
Such is the task at hand for the Tigers as they prepare to host Marist. The contest pits two evenly matched one-loss teams — one an upstart; the other a perennial contender — with neither willing to fall short of a chance to play their way into the Georgia Dome.
The tale of the tape:
Coach: Kevin Whitley
Offense: Running back Maetron Thomas just might break off a long run to pay dirt in this one … maybe more.
Defense: Safety Corey Hall, middle linebacker Cameron Gordon and the defensive end tandem of Timarcus Cullins and Titus Davis will look to make life miserable for Marist passers, carriers and receivers.
X Factor: Freshman utility man Malachi Brown on punt and kickoff returns.
2012 playoffs: The Tigers have impressed thus far in the postseason, following up a 42-21 first round dismantling of Wayne County with last week’s gutsy 27-14 win over Worth County.
But, as is the nature of single-elimination tournaments, the competition gets tougher the higher one ascends the ladder. Enter Marist.
Coach: Alan Chadwick
Offense: Quarterback Myles Willis and tailback/wideout Gray King spearhead the War Eagles’ option attack.
Defense: Strong safety Nick Carrier and middle linebacker Jason Morris will be looking to disrupt the Tigers’ game plan.
X factor: Blue chip tight end/defensive end Greg Taboada is capable of making a play to swing the momentum in Marist’s favor from either position.
2012 playoffs: The War Eagles also enter Friday night’s matchup on a roll.
Marist topped home standing Carrollton in a 43-37 shootout last week. The War Eagles had opened the postseason by blasting Gilmer 56-0 a week prior.
Like last week, Marist can expect to again have their hands full on the road.
Prediction: Too close to call. Whichever team forces the other into making more costly mistakes — turnovers, three- and out possessions, bad field position — will likely advance to the next round. Fans on both sides would be wise to brace for a tight game throughout, the eventual winner possibly making a game-saving play (perhaps on special teams?) in the waning moments.