Fresh off an unexpected open week, the 10th-ranked Baldwin Braves (3-0 region, 3-0 overall) are gearing up for their homecoming date against the Spalding High School Jaguars (1-2 region, 1-6 overall).
Friday will be the first-ever meeting between Baldwin and Spalding, two schools that will see a lot of one another in the next few years since they are now members of the same region.
Baldwin was supposed to have played Howard High School in a region game last week, but COVID concerns at the Macon school caused a cancelation. Region 4-4A coaches got together before the season and decided that with the uncertainties facing everyone in 2020 teams would be able to cancel two region games and still make it into the playoffs. That means the Braves, playing a region-only schedule this season, will have five regular season games instead of six unless the Howard game is made up.
These final two regular season ballgames carry a lot of weight for BHS as playoff seeding is on the line. A win Friday versus Spalding pretty much guarantees the Braves at least a region runner-up finish, meaning they would get to host in the first round. The Jaguars carry just a 1-6 record this year, but Baldwin head coach Jesse Hicks said what he sees on film does not line up with that bad record.
“I know sooner or later they’re going to get that program rolling, I just hope it’s not against us this week,” Hicks said. “They’re extremely athletic. Next to Westside, they’re probably the next-best looking group skill-wise that I’ve seen this season, especially on film. They run well to the football. They’re not very big up front defensively, but they’re quick and long.”
With the Braves holding a good size advantage over its homecoming opponent, they may lean heavily on their run game that features three and sometimes four different running backs.
Offensively Spalding employs a spread look that has them using two different quarterbacks. Coach Hicks has always bragged on the athletic talent level at Baldwin High, so he believes his guys can handle whatever the Jaguars throw at them as long as everyone does their jobs and plays with the right frame of mind.
“I think we can match up with anybody in the state athletically,” said Hicks. “It comes down to a matter of will when you’re going up against somebody with the same skill. I think we’re the only ones who can hold us back. The kids’ mindsets are in the right place. They’re still upset about not getting to play last week. They really enjoy playing on Friday night because the green carpet means something to them.”
Kickoff for the Baldwin-Spalding football game is set for 7:30 p.m. Friday inside Braves Stadium.