Entering the ninth week of its season, the Alcovy High varsity football team holds its fate in its hands.
With a win over the Rockdale County Bulldogs (5-3, 2-2) on the road at Reid Stadium tonight, the Tigers (6-2, 3-1) could set up a meeting with the Lovejoy Wildcats a week from now for the Region 2-AAAAAA championship.
With region title hopes in mind, the Tigers and coach Kirk Hoffman aren’t worried about the Wildcats just yet; instead, their attention is focused on a Bulldogs’ program that has shown a rejuvenated style of play under second-year head coach Venson Elder.
Rockdale County sits just a game behind the Tigers in the region standings with a 2-2 mark in league play. The Bulldogs’ season has been marked by its improved defense effort, and Hoffman said the Tigers will have to play well against the Bulldogs’ front seven if they hope to walk out of Conyers with a win.
"Defensively, they are good," Hoffman said. "The thing that we’re going to have to do is first make sure we are blocking the right person. Second, we have to stay on our blocks. When you watch Rockdale on film, they get off of their blocks quick and get to the football. We have to be able to stop that and make sure we are getting to guys and sticking with them."
The Bulldogs have allowed 19.5 points per game in region play, a number inflated in part because of their struggles on offense. Rockdale County has played at least part of its last two games without starting quarterback Zuri Minnifield after the sophomore left the field in the Bulldogs’ 28-14 loss to Luella Oct. 11.
Hoffman said that whether the Bulldogs’ offense is at full strength or not Friday night is irrelevant — they can still put points on the scoreboard, no matter who’s navigating the offense.
"When you look at their offense, you have to be prepared, no matter who comes out for them," he said. "Their quarterback two weeks ago against Newton came out and threw some nice balls and ran the ball pretty well.
"For us, we have to go in and follow our game plan and execute the way we have been the last few weeks. We have to fly to the football. I think any high school coach will tell you the key to playing good defense is to get to the football, whether they’re running or passing it."
With the Bulldogs standing between the Tigers and a region title, Hoffman said his team is eager to hit the gridiron.
"I think when you get this late into the year, and you’re still in the hunt for a region title, every game adds a little more excitement," Hoffman said. "For us, when you can get into the ninth or 10th week, and you’re still in the hunt for a playoff berth, it makes practices livelier and the kids are more excited."
Game time is set for 7:30 p.m.