The last time the Trojans (6-3, 5-1 Region 5-AAAA) played on a Thursday night was the 1974 season opener. That team defeated East Rome, 35-6, and went on to win the state championship. Overall, Carrollton is 5-4-1 on Thursday night games, with most of those coming in the 1950s.
This time around, Carrollton coach Rayvan Teague knows what it did to the practice schedule during the week, but he won't know how it will affect his team until game time.
"This is our first shot at it, so we really don't know yet. We treated it like a normal Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and basically just kind of lost our Thursday pre-game practice. We're going to try to get down [to the field] right after school and do a pre-game practice, just from a mental standpoint, then get on the bus and go. We'll get all our practices in," Teague said.
Even in a short week, the Trojan coach was pleased with how his team has worked coming off a difficult loss at No. 1 Sandy Creek last week. Carrollton will also get some injured players back.
"The kids have worked hard. They've responded well, considering the loss last week. I think they came back ready to go to work and they've done that. We've gotten a little healthier. We're still short Tyler Melson, but Dan Harris is back with us and everybody else that has played this year is healthy, up to this point. We're short one starter, but everybody else is healthy and that's a good thing at this point in the season," Teague said.
The Grangers (5-4, 4-2) still aren't the same team that won three state titles in four years a decade ago, but they have gotten back on track under second-year coach Donnie Branch.
"I think they're a very good team. Offensively, they're an exceptional team. They've got a lot of senior skill guys that have major speed. They've got a good, older offensive line. Offensively, they have moved the ball and scored points on everybody, including Sandy Creek. They're full of trick plays and they run the spread and they have the personnel for it," Teague said.
"Defensively, they have three exceptional players. [Joe] Sanders that came over from Troup at defensive end, the linebacker that's a junior and the [D.J.] Hudson kid that's a three-year starter at defensive tackle. Then all that speed they have at skill is back there in the secondary. They're getting back to the LaGrange defense of old."
The series between the two schools does not favor the Trojans, who have won just two times out of 13 meetings. But some of that has changed recently. Carrollton lost to LaGrange each year from 2000 to 2004, but when the series started back up in 2010, the Trojans finally got their first win and followed it up with another win last year.
Not only has Carrollton won the past two games, but it has done so by a combined 105-7 score after never scoring more than seven points in the 11 losses.
There's much more than series numbers on the line Thursday night in the 14th meeting between the schools, though. While both teams have a playoff spot clinched, it is always nicer to start the postseason off at home as the No. 2 seed.
"One, obviously, we would like to host a playoff game. I think we play better at home. I think we're more comfortable with the routine and all that stuff. Two, you would like to gain some momentum going into the playoffs with a win. But, ultimately, I don't know that the two seed is any better than the three seed, other than going on the road and the momentum of a win instead of a loss. As a whole, it will not hurt us, crush us, one way or another. We just have to go out, play our game and see what happens," Teague said.