The Apalachee High School football team was off on Friday, Oct. 11, but thoughts were already on its upcoming contest on Friday, Oct. 18.

That’s understandable when one considers the upcoming opponent is Dacula High School, which continues to be at the top of the Class AAAAAA rankings.

“They are No. 1 for a reason,” AHS coach Toni Lotti said. “They are big, fast, physical and talented. That’s a tough combination to beat.”

In planning for the Falcons, the AHS coaching staff quickly realized their opponent has no weaknesses. Lotti said Dacula is strong “offensively, defensively and everywhere.”

“They have some big play receivers and their quarterback has really improved,” Lotti said. “He can throw it and run it. He is the type of player who can take it to the house on any play. As a team they have a lot of weapons.”

The Falcons (6-0, 1-0 GHSA Region 8-AAAAAA) also were off Oct. 11.

A key for AHS (2-4, 0-1) will be to do the small thing right such as lining up properly. Lotti said that was an issue in last season’s matchup.

“We have to be able to tackle in space,” the Wildcat coach said. “If we don’t, it’s going to be a long night. Our kids had a good bye week of working and improving.”

Going against some of the state’s top programs is nothing new for Lotti, who has been on the opposite sideline to such powerhouses as Buford, Marist, Blessed Trinity and Cartersville.

“Dacula is in the category of all of those programs,” the coach said. “They have such speed and such size and they execute. We are looking at it as another week to prepare and get better as a football team. We want to be the best football team we are capable of being. One of our goals is for us to be better than our previous game.”

In matchups against such a favored opponent, the Wildcats will look to keep the close game early and not give the Falcons any assistance.

“They don’t need any help,” Lotti said. “We can’t have dumb penalties and we have to protect the football. If you give help to a team like the one we are playing this week then it can get out of hand quickly.”

Coach Chris Jenkins’ Dacula team has been impressive in 2019. The Falcons played a tough non-region schedule with wins against Discovery (27-0), Mill Creek (24-21), Mountain View (28-23), Central Gwinnett (49-28) and Rockdale County (35-0.)

Dacula opened its region slate with an equally impressive 42-7 victory against Gainesville High School.

Former AHS head coach Steve Sims is an offensive assistant coach for the Dacula Falcons.

Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m.

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