It’s a one-game season for Cougars
LAGRANGE – The Lafayette Christian School Cougars have never beaten Holy Ground Baptist Academy on the gridiron.
This would be a good time to start.
On Friday, those two teams will face off in a game with major playoff implications.
Lafayette Christian and Holy Ground are part of a four-team region, and two of those teams will qualify for the Georgia Independent Christian Athletic Association eight-man state playoffs.
The Cougars are 1-1 in the region, and if they win Friday’s game, they’ll qualify for the state playoffs.
If the Cougars lose, they’ll most likely be at home when the playoffs begin.
So that’s what’s on the line when the two foes face off at 7:30 p.m. on what will be senior night for Lafayette Christian.
“We’ve played Holy Ground the past couple of years, and they’ve pretty much gotten the best of us,” said Lafayette Christian assistant coach Nick Nehring. “I really do think we have a chance. It’ll come down to the little things, who holds onto the ball, and making plays.”
In the most recent meeting between the two teams, it was Holy Ground beating Lafayette Christian 48-14 early in the 2014 season.
Both teams went on to have exceptional 2014 seasons.
Lafayette Christian rebounded from that loss and didn’t lose again until it fell to Praise Academy in the semifinals of the state playoffs.
Holy Ground reached the state-championship game where it lost a 48-47 heart-breaker to Praise Academy.
As for this year, Holy Ground and Lafayette Christian are about to play an elimination game.
While the Cougars are 1-1 in the region after losing to Central Christian and beating CrossPointe, Holy Ground fell to Central Christian in its lone region game.
This will be Lafayette Christian’s second consecutive must-win game.
After falling to Central Christian 58-56 in an overtime thriller, Lafayette Christian knew it needed to win its final two region games to make the playoffs.
After a non-region victory over Shiloh Hills, Lafayette Christian beat CrossPointe Christian 34-22 to even its region record.
“It was a must-win last week too,” Lafayette Christian head coach Nate Shaw said. “So they’ve been stepping up. They just have to step up again.”
In eight-man football, the games usually feature a lot of points and plenty of big plays, and Shaw doesn’t expect this week to be an exception.
“It’ll be a game of big plays, and the team that turns it over less will have a great chance,” Shaw said.
Shaw is hoping his team can use its speed to its advantage.
“We’ve got good speed, and we need to take advantage of that and get outside and get down the field,” Shaw said. “That’s what we need to do.”
One of the seniors who will be honored on Friday, Jemi Reed, is one of those players who can get down the field.
In the victory over CrossPointe, Reed returned a kickoff 65 yards for a touchdown, and he also had an 83-yard interception return for a score.
In the previous game against Shiloh Hills, Reed returned a punt for a touchdown, and he had a scoring run.
Also in the CrossPointe game, Antavious Sands had a pair of touchdown runs, and senior Eli Shepherd had a scoring run.
Freshman Landon Whitley has done a nice job of running the offense from his quarterback position, and he had a touchdown run and a scoring pass to Morgan Channell during the win over Shiloh Hills.
Shepherd, a standout running back and linebacker, knows the history between the two programs, and he’s not concerned about that.
“We played them last year, and we lost to them,” Shepherd said. “I don’t think we’ver beaten them before. It’s going to be interesting. We’re ready for it.”
Reach Kevin Eckleberry at (706) 884-7311 or on Twitter @lagrangesports