The Backyard Brawl is the Backyard Brawl.
This season I expect there to be a lot of the same things that I witnessed in the first three games I’ve seen Athens Academy and Prince Avenue Christian School play.
However, this one has a different feel to it.
It feels like a big game, but it feels like both teams have placed the appropriate energy behind it. While the winner will have the inside track to winning Region 8A that may not be as important as it once was.
Last season the Wolverines had their shots in the first of the two meetings with the Spartans. They lost in October. It was their only loss of the season when the two teams ran it back in late November with a chance to go to the state championship on the line.
PACS was once again a play or two away from winning that game as well.
The Wolverines come into Friday having already suffered a loss and without their starting quarterback this time.
In a sense, they’re playing with house cash.
If the Wolverines win, they control their destiny for their first region title since 2016. If they lose, well their goal of reaching the state championship and winning it remain the same.
The Wolverines have become a better team in the last few weeks.
Adding the top player in the 2021 recruiting class back into the fold later in the season only makes them a more dangerous proposition for teams in a playoff scenario.
Athens Academy needs wins against good teams.
The Spartans have four wins against four teams whose combined records is 3-16. The Spartans have been dominant but their Power Ratings have suffered. They sit 13th, behind the Wolverines, in the latest Power Ratings.
A win over the Wolverines and wins in the coming games over some of their toughest competition to date could jolt them back up in the standings.
For once, there’s more on the line than bragging rights. This week is about positioning in the bigger picture for both teams.
Jeremy Johnson is the sports editor for The Oconee Enterprise. Opinions expressed are those of the writer.