Peachtree Ridge’s Jordan Ellis (1) charges Walton’s Chad Clay (4) as he attempts to break a tackle from Ridge Gibson (43) during the Corky Kell Classic at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta on Aug. 24. Peachtree Ridge defeated Walton 23-17. (Staff Photo: Brendan Sullivan)
PARKVIEW AT PEACHTREE RIDGE
Parkview Panthers (8-AAAAAA)
Coach: Cecil Flowe
2012 Record: 9-4, Class AAAAAA state quarterfinals
Last week: Did not play
Peachtree Ridge Lions (7-AAAAAA)
Coach: Mark Fleetwood
Last week: Beat Walton 23-17
When: Today, 7:30 p.m.
Last meeting: Parkview won 3-0 last year
Directions to Peachtree Ridge High School: From I-85, take the Old Peachtree Road exit and go west. School is roughly two miles ahead on the right.
Given how solid both defenses were, how many question marks there were for both offenses and how early in the season it was, it probably wasn’t a major shock that last year’s meeting between Peachtree Ridge and Parkview produced only three total points.
But while both defenses figure to remain fairly stout, neither head coach expects as low-scoring a game as the No. 8 state-ranked Lions hosts Parkview.
Sure, both Peachtree Ridge’s Mark Fleetwood and Parkview’s Cecil Flowe expect this year’s game to be just as hard- hitting.
“I expect a physical, well-coached team that will try not to beat themselves,” Fleetwood said when asked about Parkview, which scored the 3-0 win against Peachtree Ridge a year ago. “Last year, was a tough, hard-fought game, and our kids remember that.”
That’s not to say each team still doesn’t have questions to answer on the offense.
For Peachtree Ridge (1-0), the main question is, can the Lions maintain the momentum built from rolling up 368 total yards — including 125 and a touchdown on the ground by Jordan Ellis and 216 passing yards from Chance Thrasher — in their season-opening 23-17 win over No. 10 Walton last Saturday at the Georgia Dome?
They definitely come into Friday’s game with much more confidence than they did a year ago at this time, when they were coming off a disheartening 42-0 loss to Camden County.
“The kids just fought hard and kept their composure,” Fleetwood said of the Lions’ come-from-behind victory Saturday. “We feel better about where we are offensively (after the opener). Are we where we need to be? No, but confidence-wise, the kids feel good about themselves. But we still have a young quarterback, and we’re still working on and trying to get better.”
Parkview’s main offensive question revolves around its three-headed battle for the starting quarterback job.
For now, sophomore Jack Chambers is expected to get the start Friday, though Flowe was quick to add that the situation remains fluid, with the possibility that either sophomore Tyler Fleetwood or junior Kalu Onumah could also see some snaps.
“It’s a competition,” Flowe said. “It will be weekly. The other two (Fleetwood and Onumah) have to be ready to play because it’s always going to depend on how (the offense) is moving.”
Flowe also acknowledges the advantage that Peachtree Ridge has of having already played a live game, while his Panthers face their season opener Friday.
However, he also points out the advantage of having a week of recent game film to help his team better know what to expect, though that footage also points out how formidable a challenge the Lions pose.
Still, Flowe expects the Panthers to be ready to meet that challenge.
“Nothing speaks like game experience,” Flowe said. “And they’ve gotten their first-game jitters out, while we haven’t, and that could be a factor. … They’re real physical, but so are we. It should be a good battle, and it’s all about execution.”