As a coach of the only common opponent of Lovejoy and Norcross this season, North Gwinnett's Bob Sphire has a unique perspective on tonight's Class AAAAAA state championship game. Sphire, whose Bulldogs lost to Norcross 31-21 and to Lovejoy 21-6 in the quarterfinals, breaks down both teams and gives his thoughts as to what each team has to do to win.
They are extremely explosive. I look at them playmakers on that team and the way (Alvin) Kamara run. He's has explosiveness and speed. On the stretch play, he makes great cuts. Obviously the wide receivers can make plays. (Myles) Autry is extremely explosive. That can be a matchup problem. The quality of the offensive line is under appreciated. The quarterback gets left out of the equation and that's unfortunate. I really think he's turned into a playmaker. The offensive line gives him a chance to make plays. What separates them is explosiveness on every snap.
Once again they are under-appreciated because of the allure of the offense. They are extremely athletic. They don't give up any big plays. They are fairly young and have grown up through the year. The two defensive ends are very explosive. I think they have an outstanding linebacker core. They look the part and play the part. They have some real athleticism on defense. They look like a college defense.
They are more of a spread, but the running back is outstanding. He's a physical guy with great vision between the tackles. It wouldn't surprise me to see him carry it 30-35 times. They are going to spread you out with their receivers. They have some size out there. Their offensive line is very good and very physical. They are unsung. They are big and athletic.
They probably gave us the most matchup problems all year. They have a great athletes they matchup man-to-man. I'm interested to see how they handle Norcross. Their nose guard is outstanding. He gave us fits. He was extremely disruptive. No. 32 is really a linebacker playing defensive line and he's relentless. All four defensive backs that play man are really good. No. 3 is a playmaker and No. 1 is extremely physical.
KEYS TO BEATING NORCROSS
Force turnovers. I think for them to lose the ball and be dispatched on offense, it presents problems.
KEYS TO BEATING LOVEJOY
I think special teams is their problem. They could be deadly in a game like this.
PLAYER YOU HAVE TO STOP ON NORCROSS
I think it's Kamara. He's a great player.
PLAYER YOU HAVE TO STOP ON LOVEJOY
I think it's the running back (Travis Custis), too. He's a first down getter. He's a big play guy, but they have to stop him on first down.
I think it's a shootout, I really do. It looks like a 31-30 type game. I don't know how it's gonna go. Everyone says Lovejoy hasn't played anyone and that's wrong. They can play. I can't call this one. I think it's a toss up.