Lovett and Marist have combined for nearly 1,600 total games and more than 1,000 wins, but Friday night on the Riverbank marks the initial varsity meeting for the two private schools.
The historically strong programs are again highly regarded state-wide. The Lions (2-0) are ranked No. 5 in Class AA, and the War Eagles (1-1) stand at No. 2 in AAAA after dropping a tight 21-17 decision to Thomas County Central Friday.
It’s already been a milestone year for Marist, as coach Alan Chadwick became the 11th man in state history to reach 300 wins Aug. 31 against Clarke Central, according to the Georgia High School Football Historians Association. The War Eagles have never missed the playoffs since Chadwick took over in 1985.
The Lions are on a 10-year playoff streak, including every year since Mike Muschamp became head coach in 2005. Muschamp is four wins from reaching 100 for his career in Georgia after previously leading Savannah Country Day.
It will be a test for the Lovett defense in containing the option attack of Marist, led by quarterback Myles Willis, a Boston College commitment. The Lions have been outstanding defensively thus far, holding Woodward and Blessed Trinity to just 10 total points.
“Marist is a very physical team and has a bunch of good players,” Lovett senior running back and linebacker Spencer Lee said. “We’re looking to go out there and match their physicality and play the best game we can possibly play. Everyone has to do their job.”
Lovett avenged a 31-28 loss a year earlier to Blessed Trinity with a 24-7 smothering of the Titans Aug. 31, forcing five turnovers and holding BT to 127 total yards and less than 19 minutes of possession.
Grant Haley had two interceptions and scored a 14-yard rushing touchdown 18 seconds into the contest, after Winn Martin forced a fumble on Blessed Trinity’s first offensive play. Two plays into the Titans’ next possession, Haley intercepted Spencer McManes’ pass to set up a touchdown run by Willie Candler and a 14-0 lead with the game less than four minutes old.
“BT after last year was kind of a rival towards us,” Lee said. “They beat us last year, and we really wanted to come out and do our best and play a big game against them.”
Neither Woodward nor BT scored a second-half point against Lovett, and the Lions also sport a plus-six turnover margin through eight quarters.
“For us, I think it’s more about getting stops than it is forcing turnovers, but we always want to get big hits,” Lovett linebacker Corey Erdoes said. “Whenever we can get the ball, we’ll take advantage of that.”
Chadwick did not return calls to his cell phone at press time.