WOODSTOCK – Two schools that share a heritage will meet on the gridiron Friday night as the Kell Longhorns entertain the Lassiter Trojans.
Kell split off from Lassiter when the school was created back in 2002. Since then, the Longhorns have faced the Trojans more than any other opponent. This contest at Kell will be the thirteenth, but Lassiter has had the better of things of late, winning the last three as the overall mark is 7 to 5 in favor of the Trojans.
This year could be different. Lassiter comes into the game 1-1, after edging Pope, 20-13. Nnamdi Orijoke had all three touchdowns, but the Trojan defense helped out with a blocked extra point and a forced fumble.
“He (Orijoke) is very talented,” said Trojan coach Jep Irwin. “Staying healthy has helped, as he is a better ball blocker and receiver. His ball security has been good so far.”
This close win comes a week after a 48-0 loss to Harrison. Irwin credited the turnaround to a return to fundamentals. “We simply executed better and improved in practice. (Against Pope) the defense was getting timely stops, and the offense (improved) in the second half.”
On the other hand, Kell comes into the game fully rested, having a bye following a thrilling 38-36 win over East Coweta at the Corky Kell Classic played at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Kell had a 36-21 lead halfway through the fourth quarter, but the Indians’ offense capitalized on several Kell miscues to almost pull off the comeback.
It was the first of five that Saturday, and it took Longhorn coach Brett Sloan a little while to recover. “The adrenaline was gone by Wednesday,” he said. “It makes it a little tough to keep the momentum when you don’t have a game the next Friday.”
The game started at 9am that Saturday, when most everyone was trying to get some extra sleep. “The logistics are the most challenging part of the 9am game,” Sloan said. “We have to do most of pregame routine the night before and then we get the kids up for breakfast by 5:30. It is nice to be the first game.  We always know exactly what time we will start, and you don’t have to wait.”
It seemed like Kell quarterback Evan Conley definitely had a shot of espresso that morning. He completed 50% of his passes for 161 yards and three scores. “He has gotten much better at moving the pocket with eyes downfield,” said Sloan about his passer, a commit to Appalachian State. “In the past, he dropped his eyes and relied on his feet.  Right now, he is doing a nice job of scrambling to make a throw.”
Both coaches recognize the uniqueness of the rivalry given that they do not share a region. “Every school in East Cobb is our rival,” said Irwin. “Maybe more so with Kell because of the proximity and the fact they split off from our school.”
“Lassiter is a huge rivalry,” agreed Sloan.  We have a lot of respect for Coach Irwin’s program.  They are right next door so there is a bit of a natural rivalry there.”
In the week of practice leading up to the contest, both coaches look to emphasize similar features. “Practice was all about cleaning up the mental mistakes that we made,” said Sloan.
Coach Irwin echoed the concern. “We look to get better every day and having the discipline to execute and make plays.”
The game kicks off at 7:30pm and will be live-streamed on sportaltv.live.

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