The goals at Woodland High in Stockbridge have grown exponentially since Steve Davenport arrived there as the coach three years ago. He convinced a young team that it could grow a program that would soon be able to compete with Stockbridge for supremacy in Henry County.
The No. 10-ranked Wolfpack will get a chance to gauge their progress on Friday when they come face-to-face with the No. 2-ranked Tigers at Stockbridge.
“They’ve been working hard so they could challenge Stockbridge,” Davenport said. “When I got here we set our goals to beat Union Grove, our biggest rival. Once they did that, we moved on to Stockbridge and want to take over what Stockbridge has rightfully earned by being the best program in Henry County. We’re looking forward to seeing where we stand.”
Woodland (5-1) opened the season by beating Union Grove for the third straight year. Then the Wolfpack traveled to Valdosta, where they lost 51-12 in a game that was close for most of the first half. Despite the loss, Davenport said his team derived great benefits from the trip to play the state’s most revered program.
“We felt like getting on the bus and going to Valdosta and experiencing that atmosphere allowed us to go to Jones County and have confidence we could win down there,” Davenport said.
Woodland won 38-9 at Jones County two weeks ago and essentially made this week’s game against Stockbridge a likely showdown to determine the Region 4 title.
Davenport knows his team must be disciplined in order to stop the Stockbridge running attack, which has been mauling people all year.
“The one time you break down is the one time they hit you,” Davenport said.
A year ago Woodland led at the half, only to have Stockbridge erupt in the second half and roll to a 42-28 win. Stockbridge has won all four meetings with Woodland.
Woodland is led by its defense. The Wolfpack has two shutouts and they have allowed no more than nine points in their four wins. Davenport has a handful of Division I prospects on that side of the ball: defensive linemen Jayquan Coles and Shaka Brown, linebacker Tre Allen and cornerbacks Yusuf Corker and Shakur Brown.
Quarterback Reid Larsen (965 yards passing, 10 TDs) leads a young offense that lost 80 percent of its offensive line, its top runner and top receiver from last year. Christopher Charles (319 yards, five TDs) and Kareem Rogers (220 yards, four TDs) are the top runners.
Stockbridge averages 249 yards rushing, with Jalen Holston (497 yards, four TDs), Kenderick Duncan (373 yards, three TDs), Jordan Brown (212 yards, four TDs) and Wesley Guilford Jr. (104 yards, 1 TD) helping the Tigers average 7.2 yards per attempt. Duncan has thrown for 696 yards and three touchdowns, with Marquez Ezzard the top receiver with 20 catches for a 20.8-yard average.
Other games to watch this week:
Thomas County Central at Warner Robins: These two traditional South Georgia powers have only met twice, splitting a series in 2010-11. Now they find themselves in the same region and this could help determine the Region 1 winner. No. 8 Thomas County Central (4-2) has lost back-to-back games against teams from larger classifications. Yellow Jackets’ quarterback Kelias Williams has rushed for 750 yards and scored 11 touchdowns. Warner Robins (1-5) quarterback Dalton Hedden has thrown for 790 yards and six touchdowns and Jarius Burnett has rushed for 383 yards and three touchdowns.
Arabia Mountain vs. Miller Grove: No. 9 Arabia Mountain (4-1) dropped its first game a week ago, a tough road game against Class AAAAAAA East Coweta. This is the Region 5 opener for the Rams, led by quarterback Samad Noble and running backs Brandon Snowball and Carl White. Miller Grove (2-3) is led by freshman running back Deondre Jackson and senior Broderick Harper, as well as quarterback Darren Parker. The two DeKalb County rivals have split their two previous meetings, with Arabia Mountain winning 26-20 in overtime in 2013.
Fayette County at McIntosh: The 31st renewal of Fayette County’s oldest rivalry has playoff implications. Fayette County has totalled 12 turnovers the last two games and McIntosh lost the ball five times against Riverdale the previous week. The loser will be virtually eliminated from the Region 3 playoff picture, barring an upset. Fayette County leads the series 21-9, but McIntosh has won the last two years, including 16-7 in 2015.
Carrollton at Villa Rica: No. 5 Carrollton (4-1) is coming off its first loss of the season, which probably isn’t good news for Villa Rica (4-2), which is trying to make the playoffs for the first time since 2008. The Carrollton defense will need to deal with Villa Rica’s Elijah Fluker, who ran for five touchdowns in last week’s win at Paulding County and has 584 yards this season. Carrollton’s offense is led by quarterback Mark Wright, who has thrown for 734 yards and nine touchdowns, and back Jaylan Thomas, who has rushed for 415 yards and four touchdowns. Carrollton has dominated this series between the two West Georgia schools, which resumes after an eight-year intermission. The Trojans lead it 41-5-7 and haven’t lost to Villa Rica since 1998.
Dutchtown at Locust Grove: The loser of this game could be out of the Region 4 playoff picture. Locust Grove (4-2) is led by senior Caleb Huntley, who leads Class AAAAA with 925 yards rushing, and has scored six touchdowns. Quarterback R.J. McDaniel, a sophomore who has thrown for 575 yards and nine touchdowns. Dutchdown (3-2) is led by quarterback Nolan Gomes, who has thrown for 237 yards. Locust Grove has won the first two meetings, one in overtime and the other by three points. It’s the first game between the teams since 2013.
Clarke Central at Loganville: After two impressive wins, Clarke Central (3-3) lost a hard-fought battle with No. 1 Buford. If the Gladiators want to nail down that No. 2 spot in Region 8, they’ll have to get past Loganville (4-1), a playoff team a year ago. Clarke’s Jack Mangel has thrown for 444 yards and three touchdowns. Loganville running back Darryl Giles Jr. has rushed for 416 yards and nine touchdowns and quarterback Cameron Perkins-McLeod has thrown for 186 yards and two touchdowns. Clarke Central leads the series 11-3, but Loganville broke a six-game losing streak to the Glads a year ago, 42-13.