While it will be only the third meeting between the two powerhouses, Lovett coach Mike Muschamp said it has the potential to develop into a rivalry.
“We have only played them twice on the varsity level, so as far as it being a huge rivalry, I’m not sure it qualifies,” Muschamp said. “However, because we have played each other in [junior varsity], ninth and seventh and eighth grades, there is certainly a rivalry atmosphere around the game. The two times we have played them have been great football games with great atmospheres surrounding them.”
Last year’s game was a classic, with Lovett edging Marist 41-38 in double overtime after coming back from a 21-6 halftime deficit. The Lions lost to the War Eagles 24-16 in their first meeting in 2012.
“Last year’s game is one that will stand out for a long time,” Muschamp said. “Winning was a big boost for our program and our kids. But the most important part of that win last year was how our kids handled the situation that they were presented. Down at halftime, 21-6, it would have been easy to just fold it up and get it over with. They found another level to go to, fought back and created a great memory.”
Lovett played Buckhead archrival Westminster last Friday after opening the season the week before with a 38-3 victory over Pace, while Marist played its first game of the year last Saturday against Godby (Fla.). Results from both games were not available at press time due to early Labor Day holiday deadlines.
Muschamp said he is expecting another tough game from a Marist team that advanced to the AAAA semifinals last year.
“They are so well coached and their kids play hard,” Muschamp said. “It is a great challenge, because their schemes are different offensively than anything else we will see all year. Because they run the option so well, it is really hard to prepare for.”
Fullback Griffin King, who rushed for 902 yards in 2013, is among the key players for the War Eagles, along with defensive end Kenneth Brinson and offensive lineman Sage Hardin.
Lovett is led by quarterback Willie Candler, who threw for 118 yards on 4-of-7 passing and two touchdowns in the season-opening win over Pace.
Running backs Jay Harris and Murphy Lee lead the ground game, while defensive ends Will Geraghty and Jack Gearon are among the key players defensively for the Lions.
“They are an extremely well-coached and disciplined team,” Marist coach Alan Chadwick said. “They have good talent and they play hard on every play. Their quarterback [Candler] is returning and he is an excellent quarterback who is a superb competitor and led them to a state championship.”