The Apalachee High School football team is sailing in unchartered waters and it’s not a comfortable feeling.
The Wildcats are now 0-7 overall (0-5 in 8-AAAAA) following last Friday’s 35-6 home region loss to Cedar Shoals. With the playoff out of the question for this season, AHS coach Shane Davis is stressing to his players to enjoy every moment they have left this season, especially for the team’s seniors.
“It’s easy for me to say that, but we have to find a way to show the playes how special this time is in their lives,” Davis said Sunday. “This is the first time since our first season here that we have been out of the playoff chase at this point. It’s tough for the coaches and the kids. Our goal is to get back to the playoffs. We won’t get there this season, but the kids have to try to look past the moment at the bigger overall picture. You have to take advantage of the time you have left this season.”
Up next for the Wildcats will be a road trip to Salem High School in Conyers. The Seminoles are also out of the playoff picture entering the game at 1-4 in region play and 2-5 overall. Salem’s lone 8-AAAAA victory came against Winder-Barrow 60-37 on Sept. 20.
“They have moved to a spread attack although it is not a typical spread offense,” Davis said. “They run option out of it with a lot of motion. They run everything from a three-back set to an empty backfield. They are going to give you a lot of different looks.”
Defensive coordinator Matt Sorrells said Salem has great athletes at the skills positions.
“That makes each facet of their offense dangerous,” Sorrells said. “They have fast wide receivers who can stretch the field deep and a quarterback who can run or throw.”
The size of this week’s opponent is also a concern for the AHS coaching staff.
“They are big up front, but it seems we say that every week,” Davis said. “Their players in the backfield are extremely fast.”
The Wildcats went back to work Monday as they try to push on during what has been a disappointing season.
“Practicing football is not always fun,” Davis said. “The fun part is enjoying the wins on Friday night and we have not been able to do that. We do want to get something out of the rest of the season, however.”
Davis said a win would benefit the team tremendously from a mental aspect.
AHS offense coordinator Joel Miller is working on a scheme to count Salem’s size and speed.
“They are aggressive and will blitz their linebackers a lot,” Miller said prior to Monday’s practice. “They base out of the 3-5, but will show some other different fronts. It will be another tough week in a region where everyone has good defenses. Hopefully, we can finish drives, unlike last week, when we had three double digit play drives that ended with no points.”
Kickoff in Conyers is set for 7:30 p.m. for the region battle.