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Alcovy looking to upset top-ranked Jaguars
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Tonight Alcovy has absolutely nothing to lose.

Actually, the Tigers could lose the football game, but to many it would not be a big surprise considering their opponent.

In fact, they are the true underdogs as undefeated Cedar Shoals will enter Homer Sharp Stadium to do battle in region action.

"To be truthful, there (are) probably a few on the team who might be intimidated," said Alcovy head coach Kirk Hoffmann, "but there's a whole lot more who aren't. I feel real confident that our kids are excited about playing, and I know that our coaches are excited about it. I tell the kids all the time you want to play these types of people because it's a measuring stick for us, and I think it's going to be a pretty good ballgame."

On Tuesday, the Jaguars (6-0 overall, 2-0 Region 8-AAAA, Sub-region B) crept into the top 10 Class AAAA Georgia Sports Coaches Poll for Week 7.

"Well, we're certainly honored," said Cedar Shoals head coach Scott Wilkins. "I hope we're still in the top 10 at the end of Week 15; that's kind of the goal."

The Jaguars are also ranked first in region.

"Well, they're 6-0 for a reason," said Hoffmann. "They're very athletic and very well-coached."

That being said, this game is enormous for Alcovy (2-4, 1-1) because the playoff picture is wide open after Rockdale County defeated Heritage last week. With the victory, the Bulldogs are tied alongside the Tigers in region play.

"If we can shut them down offensively, I think we'll have a chance to win," said Wilkins, "but I don't know if we can do that. They've got playmakers in key positions, and they do a great job of moving their people around.

"And then, of course, they bring pressure from every play on defense," added Wilkins. "We've got our hands full."

Last year the Jags pounced all over the Tigers, 42-13. But Wilkins is still concerned, especially since the new-look Tigers have already won two more games than last season in their inaugural campaign.

Alcovy has quietly racked up 1,650 yards of total offense, averaging 275 yards per game. The Tigers also have one of the top running backs in Newton County.

Malachi Outlaw has already rushed for 668 yards on 74 carries and three touchdowns, averaging 9.0 yards per rush in six games. For a clearer perspective, he has accounted for 41 percent of Alcovy's overall offense this year.

Senior quarterback Ryan Ledford has become the offensive leader Alcovy desperately needed entering the season. Overall, Ledford has completed 50 percent of his passes, including four touchdowns. On the ground, he has rushed for 369 yards and three touchdowns.

And senior Eric Strozier has proven to be one of the premier wideouts in the area. Strozier has 16 catches for 322 yards and four touchdowns. In addition, he has proven to be a dangerous threat regarding kickoff returns, averaging 21.4 yards.

"They're explosive from the offensive side of the ball," said Wilkins. "I think they block really well in the line of scrimmage. Strozier is a big-time player, so you've got to defend the whole field. You've got to know where their receivers are, and you've got two running threats with Ledford and Outlaw."

But the Jags have a few offensive threats, too, starting with senior quarterback Trent McGuire and junior fullback DeDe Lattimore.

Last week against Eastside, McGuire led Cedar Shoals to a 27-20 win. In addition, he rushed for 90 yards and two touchdowns. Lattimore, who replaced injured running back Hykeem Hall, had a game-high 146 rushing yards and two scores.

The Jags also have experience - 35 upper classmen, to be exact - something Alcovy currently lacks. In comparison, the Tigers have just four starting seniors on the defensive end of the football. Their Achilles Heel, or Paw, would be their lack of understanding.

Still, Alcovy has a strong offensive line. According to Hoffmann, it has improved tremendously, and is probably the most improved group of the team.

"Offensively, we've got to be able to put some drives together," said Hoffmann. "We've got to play hard, minimize mistakes and let the chips fall where they may."

Should the Tigers do just that, don't be surprised if they pull off the upset.

"His success at Spalding - taking a new program from the ground and building it into a very solid, successful program - I mean, the guy knows what he's doing," said Wilkins. "This is not something that's happening for the first time. He knows what it takes to get a program moving, and they are certainly moving in the right direction."

According to Wilkins, Hoffmann has already taken a page out of his handbook.

"You get the ball in the hands of your playmakers on offense, you play lights out on defense and you get your kids in the weight room to get stronger," said Wilkins. "I think he's doing all three of those things and doing them quite well."