Local bragging rights will be the only thing up for grabs in this year’s Lovett-Westminster confrontation, now that the two teams are no longer in the same region. Both squads played in 6AA last year, but Westminster has moved up to Class AAA and defending state champion Lovett stayed put in AA.
But for Westminster assistant coach Joe Sturniolo, none of that will have any effect on the usually high intensity level of the game between the two schools that are located only about three miles down the road from each other on Paces Ferry Road.
“It’s going to have no effect whatsoever — it’s still going to be Lovett and Westminster,” Sturniolo said. “These are two schools that are similar in the students that they attract. Our kids know their kids and our coaches know their coaches. We’re friends with them and you always want to beat your friends.
“It’s kind of like playing your brother and you always want to beat your brother. It’s always going to be like that. It doesn’t matter if one of us is in [Class] AAAAAA and one is in A. The intensity is going to be there, no matter what.”
The game will also be played earlier in the season this time around after having been played in October and November the previous six years.
“Later in the season, we have a lot more film on [Lovett] and we have a lot better sense of what they’re going to do and they have a lot better sense of what we’re going to do,” Sturniolo said. “Now, it’s going to be a little more of a surprise factor, coming so early in the year. Playing it early in the year also means kids are fresher. So we should be a full strength, as should they, and that’s not necessarily the case in November.”
The Wildcats own a 16-10 advantage over Lovett in the series, but the Lions have won the last two contests, including a 30-0 victory last year.
Lovett opened the season with a 38-3 victory over Pace last Friday.
The Lions jumped out to a 21-0 lead to take control of the game.
Quarterback Willie Candler completed four-of-seven passes for 118 yards and two touchdowns to lead the Lions.
Sandy Springs will have its own intra-city battle as Riverwood plays on its home field against Holy Innocents’, which also plays its home games at Hoskyn Stadium.
“It’s a crosstown rivalry,” Riverwood coach Ben Stready said. “A lot of the kids at Holy Innocents’ live in the Riverwood district and would be going to Riverwood if Holy Innocents’ wasn’t there. Of course, it’s the Battle of Raider Drive, so it’s going to be intense.”
This year, Holy Innocents’ will be one classification closer to AAAAA school Riverwood after moving up to AA from A.
The rivalry between the two Sandy Springs foes is tied at 3-all. The Raiders have won the last two games, including a 35-21 victory in 2013.
Riverwood opened the season with a 35-10 victory over Coosa, while Holy Innocents’ fell to Cambridge 42-6 in its season opener in games last Friday.