By TIM LEIBLE firstname.lastname@example.org
The Laurence Manning Academy football team didn’t have a Week Zero matchup last week, so it’s anxious to finally hit the field on Friday. The Swampcats will open their season with a SCISA 3A game against Augusta Christian School on the road, and they’re ready to finally start getting after an opponent.
“We haven’t played an opponent since our scrimmage,” said first-year LMA head coach Austin Floyd. “Our guys are kinda tired of banging on each other. We’re ready to bang on somebody else for sure.”
Augusta Christian was able to play last week, but didn’t even make it to halftime before the weather affected the game. The Lions used the little time they played efficiently, scoring 21 points in about a quarter and a half against Augusta Prep Day.
Floyd is keying in on ACS running back Jacob Walker and quarterback Sam Roberson.
“They’re explosive. Their running back is a really good player. I think he had 90 yards rushing on like five carries,” said Floyd. “We’ve been telling our guys all week they have to wrap up and tackle if we’re going to be successful at stopping the run because if he gets going, he can hurt you.
“The quarterback is also a returning starter and a good player,” Floyd added “You can see him going through his progression during the game.”
While Augusta Christian can sling the ball around a bit, Floyd is focused on stopping the run first and foremost.
“We’re going to try to stop the run first, because a lot of their passing game comes off of that,” Floyd said. “We’re going to try to do everything we can to make them play left-handed, I guess, is the best way to put it. We feel like if we stop the run, we’ve got a pretty good chance of slowing them down.”
The Swampcats have had a number of players step up in practice so far, but Floyd is looking forward to seeing who stands out under the lights. LMA has a number of key returning players. It is led by senior quarterback Burgess Jordan, who had 1,361 all-purpose yards last season and 17 total touchdowns. Joining him in the backfield is Wyatt Rowland, who rushed for 833 yards and eight touchdowns as a junior, despite missing 2 1/2 games.
“Burgess Jordan does a good job of leading us every day,” said Floyd. “We’re going to feed Wyatt Rowland. We’ll have Wyatt and Trey Sharpe (at running back) and at fullback we’ll have Nolan Osteen have some carries and Burgess will have some carries.”
Floyd has stressed the need to spread the ball around to a number of different people. He doesn’t want to lean on just one or two players.
“We don’t have one guy that’s going to sway the game himself. We have to play as a group and execute and play physical. We don’t have that one or two studs as you’d call them. We have some really good players, but we have to play collectively as a group to give ourselves a chance.”
In Floyd’s eyes, the biggest key to them coming out on top on Friday night will be keeping players healthy. Cramping can be an issue early in the season, especially after the long bus ride the Swampcats will make heading down to Martinez, Georgia.”I think the biggest thing is that we’ve gotta stay healthy for four quarters,” he said. “I’ve seen teams early in the season struggle with cramps and because of the depth, we’ve gotta keep everybody out there and keep everybody out there doing their job. If we can hang on to the ball and not turn it over and slow their running game down, I think we can have a chance.”
“I’m excited and I want that excitement to spill over into my players. I think we all are. I think the community is ready to roll. I expect us to have a big crowd down there and I think they’ll have a good crowd.”
The 25-year-old Floyd is anticipating his first game as LMA head coach.
“We’re kicking off with a region game on the road. What more could you really want? It’s an opportunity to step into the hornet’s nest right out of the bat.”
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