After a swift start and several back-to-back road games, First Presbyterian Christian Academy hosts Robert Toombs Christian Academy at 7:30 p.m. Friday in a Georgia Independent School Association Region 2-AA matchup at Long Bell Stadium in Hinesville.
Defensive coordinator William Herdman said the Highlanders are relatively healthy, minus a few bumps and bruises.
FPCA (1-7 overall, 0-1 in Region 2-AA) had a last-minute change to its schedule last week, which placed the Highlanders against Memorial Day at Garden City on Saturday night for a region contest.
The two-time state-champion Matadors beat FPCA 43-8 for their homecoming game. While the score might indicate a blowout, it actually shows FPCA has made huge strides against a powerhouse opponent that beat the Highlanders by 60-plus points in the past.
The Highlanders’ offense is guided by quarterback Dylan Stewart, who is 21-of-62 passing for 433 yards and seven touchdowns. Jamison Golson leads FPCA with 321 yards on 46 carries and two touchdowns. Stewart is second on the team in rushing yards with 298 and two touchdowns, and Jimmy Ouyang has 97 rushing yards and two touchdowns.
Joshua Armour has nine receptions for 190 yards and five touchdowns, while Sensier Carnes has five receptions for 142 yards and a touchdown, and Isaiah Dickey has two catches for 55 yards and one touchdown.
Armour leads the defense with 34 total tackles. Golson and Iain McVeigh each have 27 total tackles, Austin Hendrix has 23, and Nasmeek Murphy has 18 total tackles and leads the team in sacks with four.
The Crusaders come into Friday’s game sporting a 4-4 overall mark and 0-1 region record. The Highlanders are 0-3 against the Crusaders.
“Toombs runs more of a pro-style set … and they have more of a power run game and keep a fullback in the backfield,” Herdman said. “That will be kind of different for us. The only time we’ve seen that was against Memorial.”
But he said FPCA needs to come out with more confidence.
“We played with a running clock for the second half, but last week, we started making the hits and getting after them once our boys realized they put their pants on the same way we do,” Herdman said. “When they start believing in themselves they can move whatever they want to move.
That was evident at Crisp. They had no doubt or question that they could beat Crisp, so when they went out there, they had a little swag and played and it showed on the scoreboard.”
He said the Highlanders played with that same confidence against Bethlehem. Herdman said they had only seen Bethlehem on tape, and from the moment FPCA stepped on the field, the team played confidently, despite a last-minute error that allowed Bethlehem to gain the go-ahead score for the 39-36 win.
FPCA wraps up the season Oct. 30 with a home game against region opponent David Emanuel Academy.