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Rams look to build experience with road trip

Grayson's football team won't be traveling in style to tonight's game at Warner Robins, mostly because its past brushes with luxury haven't worked out well.

The Rams have had a charter bus break down for two straight years in the playoffs, the most recent on the long trip for last year's Class AAAAA quarterfinal game at Camden County.

Tonight, the 100 or so Grayson players and coaches will hop on four school buses for a trip down I-75 to legendary McConnell-Talbert Stadium.

"I'm going with old reliable," Grayson head coach Mickey Conn said.

"I think (the team) will be fine with the school buses. Hopefully we'll be happy to stay on the bus and not have to wait to change buses when one breaks down."

The bus switch is one of the minor changes Conn made in his road trip plans. He also said he learned last year that it didn't help his team to travel to Camden a day early for a game the Rams lost 22-7. They plan to leave today at 1 p.m. with a stop in the Macon or Warner Robins area for a meal.

Those kinds of plans must be made for long road trips, which is a major reason why Conn wanted to make this trip. It's a learning experience for the coaches and players.

"I wanted to schedule this to get us ready for our tough region by playing a tough game, but also to prepare us if we make the playoffs," said Conn, who also likes the experience of playing in Warner Robins' large stadium. "If we are fortunate enough to make the playoffs we might face a long trip. But that's a long way off though."

Conn doesn't want to look forward, not with a playoff-caliber team ahead tonight. Warner Robins, although it struggled with close losses in a 3-7 season in 2007, is a traditional powerhouse with four state and two national titles.

The Demons looked good in last week's opener, blanking Wheeler 28-0 and holding their opponent to 106 yards. Wheeler also had four turnovers while Warner Robins' wing-T produced for 212 rushing yards, led by Aaron Allen (nine rushes, 66 yards, TD) and Jonathan Jackson (eight rushes, 40 yards, TD).

But the defense was most impressive. The Warner Robins' front includes 6-foot-4, 300-pounder Jeffrey Whitaker, a junior defensive lineman who already has offers from Georgia and Clemson.

"(Whitaker's) really good," Conn said. "He's a big boy."

Grayson had an off week last Friday, but it had plenty of positives from its Aug. 23 opener. The Rams defeated McEachern 31-21 in their Georgia Dome and Corky Kell Classic debut.

Conn liked his offense's ability to not only sustain drives, but score points. Quarterback Tyler Horne scored a pair of touchdowns, James Earl Jones had 12 rushes for 75 yards and Ean Pemberton did his usual job with 145 rushing yards and a TD on 24 carries.

"I was real pleased with Tyler Horne and the way he handled the offense," Conn said. "Ean Pemberton did a great job, too. They really picked up where they left off last year."

SideBar: GRAYSON AT WARNER ROBINS

Grayson Rams (8-AAAAA)

Coach: Mickey Conn

Record: 1-0

Last week: Had a bye

Warner Robins Demons (1-AAAAA)

Coach: Bryan Way

Record: 1-0

Last week: Beat Wheeler 28-0

When: Today, 7:30 p.m.

Last meeting: First meeting

Directions to McConnell-Talbert Stadium: I-75 south to exit 146/Warner Robins/Centerville. Turn east on Watson Boulevard for 7.8 miles and turn right on Davis drive.