The Apalachee High School football team has two region games remaining on the 2019 schedule and will need wins in both to have a chance at the postseason.
The Wildcats (2-6, 0-3 GHSA Region 8-AAAAAA) will travel to Gainesville High School (4-4, 2-1) on Friday, Nov. 1, facing a Red Elephant team which is hoping to move up in the region standings to possibly host a state playoff game.
AHS is entering the third week of a brutal stretch on its schedule, having already played top-ranked Dacula and No. 5 Lanier. Now the Wildcats take to the road against the team which is currently third in the region standings.
“We have two games left and we need wins in both and maybe some other scenarios to happen,” AHS coach Tony Lotti said earlier this week. “First and foremost, we need to get a win this Friday.”
As in previous weeks, the task for the Wildcats will not be an easy one once Friday night arrives.
“We have to go on the road into a hostile environment,” Lotti said. “City Park is a tough place to play. We are going to have our work cut out for us.”
The back-to-back-to-back games against the top teams in the region has been tough but Lotti said that cannot be used an excuse.
“It is what it is,” the AHS coach said. “It has been a tough stretch but that’s how it goes. We have to look at this week as a chance at another opportunity to play well and be successful. We are dealing with injuries. There is no question about that. We will try to patch a team together and see what we can do. We are going to have some key players missing.”
Despite what has been a tough overall season, the team’s attitude remains positive according to its coach.
“Our morale is very good,” Lotti said. “We just have to continue to fight and go one game at a time.”
Gainesville presents a challenge with talented skill players and a big offensive line. Lotti said that seems to be the case for most of his team’s foes in 8-AAAAAA.
“We can only control what we can control,” the coach said. “We cannot help our opponent by making mistakes such as penalties and turnovers. Gainesville has good athletes all over the place so it is not going to be an easy task by any means. Hopefully we can get a break at some point. We haven’t had any breaks go our way this season.”
Lotti said he could guarantee all Wildcat players and coaches will continue working at each practice and being as prepared as possible for each contest. After this week’s game at Dacula, AHS closes out the regular season with a game against Habersham Central.
“We are going to see this through to the end,” Lotti said.
Gainesville is coached by former Winder-Barrow High School mentor Heath Webb, who guided the Bulldogg program for four seasons. Webb helped lead the Bulldogg program back to playoff status after it had bottomed out for several years.
Several of the assistant coaches who were at WBHS with Webb are now with him at Gainesville.
Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m.