Lithia Springs has shown vast improvements since last year’s winless season. The Lions are now getting to the point where losing is unacceptable, no matter who the opponent is or how well the team plays. This was evident on the face of every player and every coach last Friday when Lithia lost their Homecoming Game to Villa Rica, despite playing well.
The Lions have lost several close games this year, including a standout performance against Alexander, who currently sits in second place in Region 5-AAAAA. They prepare for East Paulding this Friday.
The Raiders of East Paulding currently sit tied for fifth in the region with a 2-3 record. They are 3-3 overall and are coming off a 27-7 victory over Chapel Hill. The game was much closer than the final score indicated as EP struggled to put points on the board.
After falling down, 7-0, in the first quarter, East Paulding rebounded with a score of their own, using a mixture of running and passing plays led by quarterback Tyler Gordon and running back Tae Ray. After narrowly avoiding going down by another touchdown thanks to a Chapel Hill holding penalty, The Raiders took the lead before halftime when the offense moved the ball 55 yards and punched in a score on a Ray run.
Neither team would score in the third quarter but East Paulding took over in the final 12 minutes. They ran their power rushing attack straight at the Chapel Hill defense, and punched the ball into the end zone twice. The Panthers managed to block one of the extra points.
The Raider offense is currently tied for sixth in the region with New Manchester at 24 points per game. The defense, at 18 points allowed per game, ranks fourth. Leading the defense this season for East Paulding are defensive end Kody Brown and middle linebacker Sonny Smith. Both have over 40 tackles for the year and the duo has combined four about 10 tackles for a loss and five sacks.
Lithia currently sits ninth in the region in both offense and defense. They have allowed an average of 31 points per game and are scoring 18 points per game.
Lithia jumped out to a 14-6 halftime lead against Villa Rica last week. After falling behind, 6-0, Jadon Walker hooked up with Dexter Hightower on a 19-yard touchdown reception. The kick gave Lithia the lead. Later in the second quarter, Walker tossed a touchdown pass to Martin Williams, and the Lions went into the half with an eight point advantage.
Villa Rica scored 14 straight points in the third quarter, taking a 20-14 lead, but the Lions came back to tie the game on the ensuing drive.
“We had a chance to take the lead, but ended up tying it,” said Lithia coach Craig Chatman. “Then we had an unfortunate situation happen on the kickoff, and then there was a penalty. This one hurts, and the guys in this locker room are hurt.”
Taking advantage of Lithia’s misfortune, VR managed to cross the goal line midway through the fourth quarter for the win.
East Paulding has won the last four meetings between the two schools, they have scored 49 or more points twice and held Lithia scoreless twice. Game time at East Paulding is scheduled for 7:30 p.m.