PREVIEW: Hebron Christian at Towns Co.

Hebron's Lew Stephens

Hebron's Lew Stephens

Hebron Lions (8-A)

Coach: Sal Battaglia

Record: 1-8, 0-6 region

Last week: Lost to Athens Academy 44-20

Towns Co. Indians (8-A, non-region)

Coach: Kyle Langford

Record: 2-7

Last week: Lost to Lakeview Academy 34-0

After enduring a brutal stretch on their schedule that included games against five Class A (private) state playoff teams, the Lions finally draw an opponent a little more on their level in the Indians, who had actually won two straight games before last week’s loss.

“They’re a little bigger than we are,” Hebron coach Sal Battaglia said. “But they’re beatable, and it’s very important that we get a win to give us a positive note heading into next year.”

While Friday's game is an opportunity for a very young Lions team to gain in confidence, it is also the final game for a handful of seniors, including safety Lew Stephens, who will see his first action since suffering a shoulder injury in the season opener on Sept. 7.

“He makes everyone on our defense better,” Battaglia said of Stephens. “He’s been missed.”

Along with a few other veteran players like receiver Tyler Matthews, Battaligia is hopeful Stephens’ presence can help the Lions get off to a quicker start than they have in recent games.

While they’ve shown plenty of fight in the second half of games over the past month or so, early holes have been difficult to climb out of, something Battaglia says his team must avoid Friday night.

“I’d like them to come out of the lockerroom like that,” Battaglia said of Hebron’s second-half grit. “But it’s taken a while for us to get going. Hopefully, we can get that done (Friday). If we can got on top early, I think we have a good shot to win.”

Last meeting: Towns Co. won 29-27 last year

Directions to Towns County High School: I-985 north to Highway 129 north exit in Gainesville. Proceed into Cleveland and take Highway 75 north through Helen and over Unicoi Mountain until it dead ends. Turn left on Highway 76 and school is 1/4 mile on right.