With familial divides and city bragging rights on the line, Laney-Josey – or is it Josey-Laney? – is always a highly-anticipated game.
But Laney coach Lemuel Lackey expects even more excitement than usual this season. When Laney visits Josey for a 6 p.m. game Friday night, region success is also up for grabs. It’s the first time it is a region game since the 2007 season.
Laney wants a win to stay in contention for a No. 1 seed for the state playoffs; Josey wants a win to break its current six-game losing streak.
“Every year, the kids play hard,” Lackey said. “They play for a lot of things. They play for their family and their community.”
It’s been a one-sided series lately, with Laney winning nine of the past 10 meetings. The past two games have been particularly one-sided, with the Wildcats outscoring Josey by a combined 96-6.
Laney (4-3, 2-1 Region 3-AA) will try to keep the dominance going behind a rushing game led by George Myers. The running back already has 926 yards and is complemented by DeMarcus Nunnally.
Eagles coach John Noah knows the challenge is to contain all that speed, but the Wildcats just rushed for 304 yards against East Laurens in a 26-12 win.
While Laney has moved the ball well lately, Josey (1-6, 0-3) has scored only 20 points in its past four games and is also dealing with injuries.
Noah said he’s lost five players to season-ending injures, forcing him to go with “Plan Z.”
Still, Noah expects the anticipation for the rivalry game to give his team a boost.
“I shouldn’t need a speech,” he said. “This is Laney.”
Senior Cameron Walton, just one of the players tasked with slowing down Laney’s rushing attack, has tried to keep his team positive during the tough times.
But Walton’s coach knows the bad times could be gone with a good game against the rival Wildcats.
“This could turn your whole season around,” Noah said.
“If we come out and play well, it could change a whole season around.”