Photo by Brian Paglia / Stockbridge defender Eddie Stubbs sheds a blocker during a lineman drill Tuesday at practice.
STOCKBRIDGE — Twenty-four hours.
That’s all the time Stockbridge coach Kevin Whitley gave himself and his eighth-ranked Tigers to celebrate and cast aside last week’s 17-14 upset victory at then-No. 2 Griffin.
“That’s something we’ve tried to do the last couple of years,” Whitley said. “We’ve had a good week of practice and we’re excited about the opportunity to play a good Eagle’s Landing team.”
When Stockbridge visits Eagle’s Landing tonight, something’s got to give.
Will it be the Stockbridge defense? A unit that, after a 23-0 season opening loss to third-ranked M.L. King, has given up less than 10 points a game. A unit that held 10th-ranked Griffin’s 38-points-per-game offense to just two touchdowns and 272 total yards.
Or will it be the Eagle’s Landing offense, led by junior running back Corey Holloway, who’s averaging 179.6 rushing yards per game?
Despite the Golden Eagle’s 0-5 record, the potency of their offense combined with Stockbridge’s stinginess should make for a compelling Region 4A-AAAA matchup for both teams.
And just one week removed from that emotional upset win at Griffin, Whitley is hoping that his Tigers can stay out their own way.
“Anytime you win a game,” Whitley said, “particularly one no one expects you to win, you have to worry about letting down.”
It could be easy for Stockbridge — given their accomplishment last week — to look at Eagle’s Landing’s record and write this one off as an automatic “W.”
But take another look, and you’ll see a dangerous offense averaging close to 30 points a game, putting up huge numbers against schools like Jonesboro and Riverdale — teams noted for their solid defensive units.
It’s an offense that no one has been able to stop yet.
Flip over to the defensive side, however, and you’ll notice that the Golden Eagles have been giving up a whopping 41.4 points a game.
Eagle’s Landing coach Joe Teknipp said his defensive shortcomings are head scratching.
“It’s a mystery,” he said. “We’re going to try some different combinations with some different people. I told my guys that we might need to score 50 to win.”
Don’t put it past them.
In addition to Holloway’s explosion, junior quarterback Brandon Dewberry has also been effective in the air. The first-year starter has passed for 742 yards and 11 touchdowns while completing passes at an almost 56 percent clip.
It’s perhaps as complete an offense as you’ll find in the Southern Crescent, and Teknipp is hoping it will be enough to notch his first win.
“We know Stockbridge is built on defense,” he said. “But hopefully our balanced attack will be a task for them.”
Whitley said he’s well aware of what the Golden Eagle’s bring to the table offensively, but no amount of offensive weaponry will change his defensive approach.
“Refs ask me every week if we have any trick plays,” Whitley said. “And we say, ‘no.’ I don’t think they even ask me anymore. We’re pretty basic. I think people make football more than what it is. Blocking and tackling. If you block well and tackle well, you win. That’s boring to a lot of people, but a “W” is a “W.”