Lee Central, Buford open region play


Lee Central High School football head coach Justin Danner placed an added emphasis on the passing game heading into last week's matchup with Columbia High.

He knew that down the road it was going to have to be a key part of the offense if the Stallions were going to continue their recent success.

Turns out the passing game showed up in a big way early as a 57-yard touchdown strike from quarterback Ti'Juan Durant to Dayrice Austin was a huge moment in LCHS' 14-7 victory over the Capitals.

The victory kept the fifth-ranked Stallions unbeaten with a 4-0 mark. They open Region IV-2A play on Friday at Stallions Stadium against another undefeated team in Buford, which is 3-0.

"We came out and threw the ball early (last) Friday and I was excited that we were not afraid to do that," Danner said. "We threw an interception on a wide-open guy, but even with the misread, we were not gun-shy about coming back and throwing again.

"As the run game struggled, we took a shot later on and connected and it ending up being the most beneficial part of the game."

Lee Central also shined defensively - as it has all year. Columbia's lone score came on a special teams play as the defense didn't allow anything. Shileake Albert had a 5-yard interception return that accounted for LCHS' other score and it also got a game-clinching interception from TyRique Jones.

Overall, teams have put up just 31 points (7.8 points per game average) against the Stallions this year.

"They have an excellent running back and he hurt us a year ago," Danner said. "Our defense and our coaching staff really took it as a challenge to really lock in on him and limit his big plays. I thought we had a good game plan and the guys executed it well."

Danner said his squad will have to clean some things up offensively moving forward, however. Penalties and self-inflicted wounds were big reasons why the Stallions struggled to score more points than they did, he said.

"We have to capitalize on our opportunities in the red zone," Danner said. "We can't go backwards. I think Friday night we hurt ourselves. Being in good field position and then there's a holding call or an illegal shift. Or being around the goal line and we jump early. Those things will hurt you."

Now the focus shifts to the Yellow Jackets, who have outscored opponents 99-75 in three games. Two of Buford's wins have come by a combined six points.

"They've been finding ways to win," Danner said. "One thing that stands out watching film is that they're really well-coached and they play hard. They play for four quarters and it's going to take four quarters of good football to win."

This will likely be the biggest test for the LCHS defense as well, Danner added.

"They're a spread attack and they're very balanced between run and pass," he said. "Their quarterback is definitely the leader. He does a great job with his arm and with his feet and he finds ways to extend the play.

"So we really have to lock into how they're planning to attack us."