The early portion of the 2013 season has not been easy for the Apalachee High School football team.
In their two non-region games, the Wildcats have been overmatched against Lanier and Greater Atlanta Christian.
Certainly no one involved with the AHS program thought going into those games it would be against easy opponents. Lanier, while AAAA this school year, is set to move up to the state’s highest classification when schedules are made again. GAC, meanwhile, is among the top programs in AA, advancing to the semifinals a season ago.
The Wildcats were off this past Friday as head coach Shane Davis and his staff went back to work to prepare for the Region 8-AAAAA slate, which begins this week against defending state champion Gainesville. The Red Elephants began their region trek last Friday by cruising by Winder-Barrow.
As someone who has known Davis long before he arrived at The Chee, I can assure anyone with concerns that no coach has been working harder in the past several days than him. That goes for his coaching staff as well. Davis knows the mountain of a challenge which awaits his program this week. Similar to the first two games, this Friday is not an enviable task.
However, it would be unwise to count the Wildcats out just yet. There is still a long stretch of road ahead of the team in 2013. All eight region games remain to be played. It’s certainly possible that the toughest region opponent will be the first one, although that by no means the rest will be easy. Flowery Branch and Clarke Central are also formidable foes.
Heritage has been strong in recent seasons and Rockdale County has been somewhat of a surprise this fall.
Perhaps what has always impressed me most about Davis is how he rightfully believes most issues can be fixed through hard work. From film study on behalf of the coaches to dedication in practice by every player on the team, Davis is demanding of himself as well as every ingredient that makes up the Wildcat program.
On paper, AHS will be a huge underdog this week. Davis knows that and probably would agree with it. Yet, having watched Davis’ program first hand the past five years, it is not beyond the realm of possibility to see AHS surprise a lot of people this Friday. It’s a challenge for sure, but it’s always best to remember that football games aren’t won on paper. Upsets do happen and it often starts when the favored team overlooks the underdog.
Offensive coordinator Joel Miller said there was improvement from the first game of the season to the second. Hopefully, adjustments have been made during the bye week and will help give the team a boost.
In addition to Davis, AHS has a strong coaching staff which also includes defensive coordinator Matt Sorrells, who has probably been burning the midnight oil preparing for the Red Elephants.
It will make for interesting watching this Friday at R. Harold Harrison Complex.
Chris Bridges is sports editor of the Barrow Journal. Send comments about this column to him at email@example.com.