Faceoff at 50, Kiffin choppers in — yeah, it’s MLK-Stephenson

Greetings from the pressbox high above the field here at James R. Hallford Stadium. I’ve just come up from the field — a near vertical climb of I’m guessing eight or nine stories — where I got an up-close-and-personal look at one of the best pregame midfield square-offs I’ve witnessed since those Miami-Florida State in the 1990s.

This one was between to of DeKalb County’s finest, the No. 7-ranked Stephenson Jaguars and No. 8-ranked Martin Luther King Lions. Stephenson, in visiting white jerseys warming up on the east end of the field, gathered and bean jumping and taunting on the 45 on their side. The Lions, in their home burgundy, quickly rushed up to their side and began jumping and yelling back. It took every coach, volunteer and referee to keep the two sides at bay.

By the time I got up and settled back at my computer — it is literally standing-room only in this ladder-access edifice — and theywere finishing playing the national anthem. On cue, a red helicopter appeared on the horizon to the west and landed on a soccer field behind Georgia Perimeter College next door. It hovered about 30 yards above the grass for several seconds — clearly to get full effect — before finally touching down gently.

After a long wait for the blades to stop turning, Tennessee coach Lane Kiffin emerged wearing a bright orange pullover. You couldn’t miss him.

Yeah, it’s going to be a wild night.

I’ll be here the whole time telling you what’s going on and what the ESPNU cameras might not see. Hang with me, won’t you?

88 comments Add your comment

SickandTired

October 16th, 2009
5:56 pm

Kiffin is gonna make Mark Richt wish he was back at Florida State. Big Orange.
Georgia: The Wisconsin of the SEC

Glennis Curry

October 16th, 2009
6:03 pm

Early Score: King Fans 1, Stephenson Fans 0

Check back for more…

Chip Towers

October 16th, 2009
6:04 pm

Just minutes from kickoff here. . . . couple of sidenotes on the Kiffin landing. First of all their timing was really good. Just 15 or 20 minutes before landing there was a soccer game going on on that field. . . . Upon closer inspection through Curtis Compton’s lens, it was a red helicopter, not an orange one. . . It it’s a big thick orange coat Kiffin is wearing. Clearly he was prepared for the cold. I, in a sports jacket, was not.. . .

We have kickoff. Mack Brown returned to the 32.

Chip Towers

October 16th, 2009
6:14 pm

Teams exchange punts on opening possessions. A lot of adrenalin right now and these teams are defense dominated anyway. Mack Brown had a nice run breaking tackle on third and long but way short of a first down. . . . Raymond Sanders had a nice one on first down for Stephenson before getting stopped for a loss out of the Wildcat on third-and-four.

Kiffin spent most of pregame shaking hands with MLK coaches. Think he has Florida commitment Mack Brown in his sights?

Chip Towers

October 16th, 2009
6:14 pm

Mack Brown’s best work coming as a decoy early. Nice run on a reverse by by No. 17.

Glennis Curry

October 16th, 2009
6:24 pm

3:16 Qtr 1: Ball security issues from both teams. King QB has been sacked twice and lost a fumble at the Stephenson 19. First and 10 Jags.

Chip Towers

October 16th, 2009
6:25 pm

Teams exchange fumbles, first Stephenson fumbles snap deep in own territory; then MLK backs run into each other and cough it up at 19. . . .

So Stephenson takes over. Teams should be getting jitters out about now and start executing a little. We’ll see.

Glennis Curry

October 16th, 2009
6:29 pm

King QB = Cameron Myers

Joe

October 16th, 2009
6:31 pm

I thought the game was suppose to be on ESPN I don’t see it on ESPN.

JB

October 16th, 2009
6:33 pm

IF kiffin is pounding his chest about beating THAT Georgia team last week, what’s next, beating up a little girl. Georgia has many more problems at this time……………than say Tennessee. We stink, they are very average. I’ll tell you about the Vols in two weeks after the Bama game. …………………..Will his head FIT in that little helicopter ?

Glennis Curry

October 16th, 2009
6:34 pm

RB Comparison thru 1 quarter
Raymond Sanders, Stephenson: 6 rushes, 45 yards; 1 catch, 19 yards
Mack Brown, ML King, 4 rushes, 24 yards

Chip Towers

October 16th, 2009
6:35 pm

Raymond Sanders (Kentucky commit) starting to show his stuff. Just ripped off 26 yard run around right end. Super burst and nice vision. . . . Nice pass there from Jordan Tarver on a roll left to Jonathan Abrams. End of first quarter with jags threatening 1-and-10 at the 14.

Chip Towers

October 16th, 2009
6:39 pm

Raymond Sanders’ recruiting stock just went up on that run. Seventeen yards, cutting back and forth and breaking initial tackle attempt. REally really quick kid. Dove in end zone. Nice.

7-0 Stephenson 11:11 2nd quarter

Albert the Alligator

October 16th, 2009
6:42 pm

Mack Brown is Gator Bound Baby, he will be respectful to Kiffin but he is not going to change his mind. “Its good to be a Florida Gator.” There will be no meltdown in Gainesville next year.

Chip Towers

October 16th, 2009
6:44 pm

MLK needed that bad. Big gain of 17 from QB Cameron Myers on third and 10. . . . Mack Brown follows with seven yards. Lions getting it going.

bamaguy

October 16th, 2009
6:46 pm

Let him showboat now. Alabama is going to clean Little Kiffin’s clock.

chc4

October 16th, 2009
6:47 pm

TN is 3-3 and pounding their chest after a 5-7 year. My how that program has fallen.

Chip Towers

October 16th, 2009
6:50 pm

Timeout in the action here. MLK faces fourth-and-6 at the 36.Probably gonna go for it since out of FG range.

Really impressed with defenses and athleticism on both sides of the ball.

Shawn Galesburg

October 16th, 2009
6:51 pm

I heard he might be trying to make Hutson Masons game tonight at Lassiter? Any truth? He is having a h…e..c…k.. of a season.

Chip Towers

October 16th, 2009
6:52 pm

Nice play both sides as Stephenson knocks away pass by jared Boyd

Chip Towers

October 16th, 2009
6:58 pm

Stephenson is dominating the game now but just turned it over again, this time on first and goal at MLK’s 8. Bad exchange between QB and wingback. . . . Stephenson ball first-and-10 at its own 10 with 2:20 left in half.

Glennis Curry

October 16th, 2009
7:00 pm

Total Yards Comparison
Stephenson 141
ML King 53

Chip Towers

October 16th, 2009
7:00 pm

Oops, MLK ball I mean. . . out to the 28 now.

Chip Towers

October 16th, 2009
7:05 pm

Not sure if you’ve notice but Thornton blowing up the middle in there. MLK scheming around it nicely on this drive but now faces second-and-4 at the Stephenson 48 with :04 left in the half. . . Look for Myers to wind up and throw one as far as he can.

Chip Towers

October 16th, 2009
7:06 pm

Dropped Thornton in coverage there. Incomplete. End of first half. . . .

Stay tuned for some halftime stats, best as I can come up with at least.

Chip Towers

October 16th, 2009
7:07 pm

Take that back. There was a second left and Myers got sacked. Now end of half . . . 7-0 Stephenson. Jags to receive second-half kickoff.

Mister NFL

October 16th, 2009
7:14 pm

He couldn’t find an orange helicopter? lol I guess Georgia or Bama rented it to him.

It doesn’t matter who Kiffin recruits. He’s not a good coach or more importantly, a leader. He shoots his mouth off and then wonders why his players do the same thing on the sideline during a game. He’s the one setting the example.

Gen Neyland

October 16th, 2009
7:18 pm

CLK is just down for the popcorn, hot chocolate and a Friday night game. If he happens to sway a few, great. If not then at least he got to visit a part of his southern kingdom…

chc4 : and rising like the crust on your daily pizza…

Chip Towers

October 16th, 2009
7:19 pm

Some stats and thoughts on first half:

Clearly Raymond Sanders has been the most impressive player so far. Has 75 yards on 14 carries and a 17-yard TD run. Also 33 yards on two receptions. . . .

But I’m impressed with Mack Brown, too. He has 58 of MLK’s 60 yards rushing (on 11 carries) and he’s doing it with two sore hamstrings and behind an overwhelmed O-line. . . .

Mike Thornton blowing up the middle of the MLK offense and getting held a lot. Opposing Guard starting to lock up and fall down and pull Thornton on top of him. Hey, whatever works. . . .

Also, Stephenson QB Jordan Tarver doing well. he’s 4-of-5 for 66 yards.

MLK QB Cameron Myers under tremendous pressure. 2-of-5 for 26 yards.

Nilo Silvan

October 16th, 2009
7:20 pm

Game is on ESPNU. Mister NFL, how do you know he is not a good coach? A little premature on that one, don’t you think?

Chip Towers

October 16th, 2009
7:21 pm

Stephenson outgains MLK 141 to 86. . . . Good game. Should probably be 21-0 Jags if not for turnovers.

Chip Towers

October 16th, 2009
7:28 pm

Lane Kiffin just took off in his helicopter. Somebody on the blog said he was heading to Lassiter to check out Hutson Mason but I don’t know. . . . Spent part of the half talking with UT player Nigel Mitchell-Thornton and Carver-Atlanta coach Chad Allen.

Gen Neyland

October 16th, 2009
7:29 pm

So many prophets, so little minds, er, time…

Chip Towers

October 16th, 2009
7:33 pm

TD Stephenson .. . Sanders from a yard out. Fititing since his 29-yard run set it up. . . . That didn’t take long. Less than 2 1/2 minutes into second half, 14-0 Stephenson.

Nilo Silvan

October 16th, 2009
7:36 pm

Know he is going to North Gwinnett for sure. That has been confirmed.

Gridiron Gator

October 16th, 2009
7:36 pm

I’m surprised that chopper could get off the ground with the Big Orange Pumpkin II Orgeron aboard. Where’s a Scud when you need one??

Glennis Curry

October 16th, 2009
7:42 pm

6:34, 3rd quarter: Stephenson QB Jordan Tarver lost his third fumble tonight and set up the King offense at their own 44, two plays after being pinned inside their own 5.

Old Towne Guy

October 16th, 2009
7:46 pm

Woodstock (4-1)-Kennesaw Mountain(1-5) is the game of the week?

No wonder your ratings are down.

Chip Towers

October 16th, 2009
7:49 pm

Stephenson dodges a bullet there. Why in the world the Jags would run a counter, then a pass play with the lead and momentum in the other team’s territory I have no idea. . . . Probably should have been ruled down anyway on the fumble. . . . But MLK hanging tough and not going away. Just jumped offsides on fourth-and-2 and punted back to Jags.

Glennis Curry

October 16th, 2009
7:57 pm

Stephenson 14, ML King 0, Start of 4th Quarter

Raymond Sanders, Stephenson: 14 rushes, 127 yards; 2 catches, 33 yards; 2 TDs
Mack Brown, ML King: 16 rushes, 87 yard

Stat of the game: Stephenson sacked King QB Cameron Myers four times.

Glennis Curry

October 16th, 2009
8:04 pm

Stephenson 20, King 0 — 10:18 4th quarter: Jordan Tarver hit a wide-open Nathan Benford for a 36-yard touchdown pass. The extra point bounced off the right goal post. It capped an 80-yard drive that included 38 yards rushing from Willie Davis, a Douglass transfer and the younger brother of Cleveland Browns James Davis.

TXDawg (former Gartrell player before Stephenson)

October 16th, 2009
8:04 pm

Chip, I agree with the Sanders comment about being the most impressive player tonight thus far, but Brown’s 87 or so yards have been really quiet. Maybe seeing him in person is a little different than watching on TV but through broadcast he hasn’t looked all that impressive tonight.

Nilo Silvan

October 16th, 2009
8:05 pm

Hey, there you are Chip! Nice interview on tv.

TXDawg (former Gartrell player before Stephenson)

October 16th, 2009
8:05 pm

….also, where’s the props for the Stephenson D-Line, it seems they’ve been pretty impressive tonight as well.

Nilo Silvan

October 16th, 2009
8:07 pm

Chip, Kiffin and Orgeron flew over to North Gwinnett to watch both CJ Uzomah and Jawuan James.

TXDawg (former Gartrell player before Stephenson)

October 16th, 2009
8:11 pm

….okay, let me reiterate….PROPS TO THE D-LINE STEPHENSON

…seems like they want the shut out.

Glennis Curry

October 16th, 2009
8:11 pm

6:14, 4th quarter: King’s Myers goes down for the fifth time, in what might have been the Lions’ last hope. Turnover on downs to Stephenson at the Jaguars 44.

TXDawg (former Gartrell player before Stephenson)

October 16th, 2009
8:13 pm

Willie Davis has good field presence! Nice hands.

TXDawg (former Gartrell player before Stephenson)

October 16th, 2009
8:14 pm

Hey Glennis>> how many yards rushing does Sanders have??

VolsRLU

October 16th, 2009
8:14 pm

Kiffin is covering a lot of ground in the most efficient way possible. This guy is all business and raising the bar thru the roof! Richt and Herban will be sharing a golf cart in 3 years max. Maybe they can play a foursome with Tubbs and Phat Phil.