The Wild Card among the AAAA contenders

By David Purdum / For the AJC

No. 1 Sandy Creek, No. 2 Carrollton and No. 3 Griffin are the clear-cut favorites in AAAA. But what about No. 4 Monroe Area? The Purple Hurricanes are the wild card.

Monroe Area reached the semifinals last season, but was drubbed, 35-0, by Sandy Creek. The Purple Hurricanes are off to another 6-0 start this season and are putting up impressive offensive numbers, behind star quarterback Stanton Truitt, an Auburn commitment. But are they legit? Can they compete in the playoffs with teams as talented as Sandy Creek, Carrollton of Griffin?

Coach Matt Fligg believes so.

Q: What has to happen for your team to carry over the success it has had during the regular season to the playoffs, when the competition steps up a notch?

Fligg: Our goal from the first of the year has been to play in one more game. From Day 1, we knew our defense had to grow up and mature. We start five sophomores on defense. We felt like as the season progressed and our defensive kids got better and better, we feel like we have a pretty good chance at a golden playoff run. I think our defense played really well up at Stephens County (47-0 win). That was the best defensive game we’ve played all year. Our offense just needs to stay healthy. We have some really good players on our offense with pretty good team speed. We feel like we’ll be more competitive when that time comes.

Q: How often did you bring up last season’s loss to Sandy Creek?

Fligg: It’s on the wall. Sandy Creek has kind of been our nemesis. They knocked us out in the semifinals in 2010 also. We’ve worked to get stronger, bigger and faster to be able to beat a Sandy Creek team or a team of that caliber. Sandy Creek is great. I’m glad we’re not playing them tomorrow, but I just feel like we’ll be better prepared for them or another team of that caliber this season. We do run into that region (Region 5) in round two this season.

Q: Do you feel your team was at full-strength when it faced Sandy Creek last season?

Fligg: Our quarterback, Stanton Truitt, missed games six through 10. And he did come back for the playoffs, but he really wasn’t 100 percent. We couldn’t run the ball (against them), so we planned a five-wide attack. And it really worked, but it just wasn’t our style. We tried to do something that we hadn’t worked on. But it really helped improve our offense this year. We’re much more balanced this year and have a great receiver in Michael Gallup. We feel like we’re better on offense and we’re getting to where we need to be on defense.

Q: In what areas does your defense need to improve?

Fligg: We’re very young in our secondary. We start three sophomores. They all played on our ninth-grade team last year, which was an undefeated ninth-grade team. We’re not the biggest on defense. D.J. Smith is a three-year starter at defensive end. We run out of a three-man front with four backers. We lost two good outside linebackers from last year. We’re a game-plan team that is a lot more multiple on defense this season.

Q: Like you said, it’s not just Sandy Creek. Class AAAA has a solid group of five or six legit contenders. Would you agree?

Fligg: I’ve watched tape on a lot of these teams. Stockbridge has a heck of a team, and you can’t ever count out Marist. I tell you, Statesboro is really good, and Griffin is always good. They’ve got great skill kids. Liberty County is pretty good, too. I don’t think it’s going to be a Sandy Creek or a Carrollton runaway, where they win by four or five touchdowns every week in the playoffs. I think starting from the get-go, Round 1 and Round 2, we’re going to have some interesting games.

Q: Nov. 1 looks like a huge night in AAAA, with Sandy Creek and Carrollton playing, Statesboro and Wayne County and your team visiting a Chestatee squad that appears to be your biggest test in the region. Are you looking ahead to that game at all?

Fligg: I’m really concerned with Walnut Grove (Friday’s opponent), because it’s a rival game and because they are a lot better than they were last year with skill kids. They’ve shot themselves in the foot a lot this year, but they’re improved. But the Chestatee game does look it’s setting up much like last year, for the region championship. They’re good, really good. Then, we have Eastside, the only (region) team that beat us last year. But right now, my biggest concern is having a good practice today.

Q: Which one your opponents so far this season do you think best compares to some of the better teams you’ll be seeing in the playoffs?

Fligg: Lanier is a night-and-day team from what they were last year, and they were pretty good last year. They’re 5-1 and the’ve  got two great running backs and these big, tall receivers. They hit us with four touchdown passes. We’re very fortunate to make some plays against them. I think Lanier definitely is going to be a playoff team.

16 comments Add your comment

TROJAN FAN

October 15th, 2013
7:54 pm

One thing I’ve learned thru the years is, rankings mean nothing. Anything can and WILL happen. Some very good teams will lose in the 2nd Round. At all levels of football (even Pro), you need some bounces to win.

Category 5

October 15th, 2013
10:38 pm

Don’t over look nobody because a good season can come to an end in the first round.

dick'n seems easy until you're dicked

October 16th, 2013
9:24 am

carroll towns loss to Lanier in round 2 they cry cry cry about bad ref calls

Just a Fan

October 16th, 2013
12:27 pm

For Carrollton to play Lanier in round 2 they would have to win region 5 which they are not favored to do. A team that got tagged for 56 points against Monroe may have problems with SC or Carrolltons offense as well.

Real Cane 84man

October 16th, 2013
12:56 pm

One thing that Coach Fligg does is respects all opponents. I can promise his only concern is the game being played Friday night. That’s how he approaches every game, every year. And yes, SC and Car-ton offenses will give any team nightmares. Those two are the best in AAAA right now and the 9th week of the season will be huge for both 5 and 8 regions. All have great coaches and staffs

Trojan94

October 16th, 2013
1:08 pm

@just a fan with all do respect to you and sandy creek I don’t look at sandy creek or carrollton as being favored in that game I look at two teams that are evenly match with a wealth of talent playing for a region title.

itsonlywrite

October 16th, 2013
2:41 pm

cant wait to see what Monroe Area does this year in the playoffs

#ELEPHANTNATION

trojan power

October 16th, 2013
5:11 pm

First of all lets stop being nice Carrollton & Sandy Creek are both ranked nationally (rivals high school rankings & cssports highschool rankings & max preps). This is because of the talent and strength of schedule. They are by far the best teams in the AAAA. So until the playoffs Griffin Monroe area fans and whoever else. Can continue to hope and pray! But the reality is they will all get blowed out!! You will need more than a quarterback to compete. Carrollton is loaded! sandy Creek is loaded! So stop wishing and be realists! Thanks

Just a Fan

October 16th, 2013
6:23 pm

When I say “favored to win” I mean according to the polls and the fact that SC is the undefeated defending state champ. I feel like the Carrollton /SC game looks to be evenly matched at this point.I will continue to respect the other contenders(although some are unproven) until we see the comparative strength of the other regions. Looks like regions 1,6&7 are overall weaker than normal this year.Agree on the talent-1st time Carrollton has had 4 D-1 linemen in a season along with 4 outstanding backs.

TROJAN FAN

October 16th, 2013
7:35 pm

Been waiting for someone to bring it up. So here we go. Could we see Carrollton and Sandy Creek in a rematch in the Dome. Damn….. Now, they’re both out in the second round. that Lanier Team is going all the way. LOL

Black1

October 16th, 2013
9:07 pm

So are we giving SC and CHS the championship! Yeah MA will have problems with them, but you never know! Still got play a stronger schedule!

Trojan '85

October 16th, 2013
9:56 pm

@Black1, anybody but Sandy Creek. Its time for someone else to win now.

1bighammer

October 17th, 2013
8:08 am

Nobody is a shoe in at this point. One game at a time. Sure SC and Carrollton appear to be the favorites at this stage, but anything can happen. We’re only 6 games into the season and there is still much football to be played.

I do think you’ll see a renewed Sandy Creek this week vs Alexander.

Black1

October 17th, 2013
11:05 am

I went to WG and notice great athletes in that area. I mean WOW!! I remember the late football coach spoke to our classe and he was very impressive!!! It maybe Carrollton year!!!

What Goes Around - Comes Around

October 17th, 2013
1:42 pm

trojan power, You have mistaken your arrogance for confidence and have let your ignorance become you.

Is this type of sportsmanship indicative of Carrollton fans?
This is why young men compete on Friday nights in Carrollton, for the right to be arrogant?

We should be humble, teach respect, and lead by example. It would be refreshing if more parents and coaches, more administrators, and especially more players realized there is room to win with flare and style and even get rich but still keep the values of sportsmanship.

Trojan '85

October 17th, 2013
4:08 pm

What one guy says does not not speak for all Trojan fans. I am sure your Team has some very confident YOUNG fans also.