Last week’s win over Sandy Creek gives Chapel Hill somewhat of a chance to control its own destiny into the playoffs.
But the next order of business is not having a letdown against visiting Central tonight.
With its 35-32 win at Sandy Creek, the Panthers improved to 4-2 overall and 1-1 in the region. The Panthers can’t afford a let down against a team fighting for its playoff life.
The Lions are 1-2 in the region following losses to Cartersville and Cedartown in consecutive weeks.
“They are a very desperate team as they need a win,” Panthers junior defensive back Miles Richardson said. “They are going to come in here with a lot of fight. We are going to have to be ready because its a home came and a pink out for us. We are excited about the opportunity to play at home again.”
And the Panthers get another shot at a Wing-T team. Chapel Hill didn’t fare too well against ninth-ranked Starr’s Mill, which also runs the same scheme.
“Central plays extremely hard,” Panthers coach Justin DeShon said. “They are going to be a challenge. Their scores really don’t show you the type of team that are. We know we are going to be in a fight for four quarters.”
Lions coach Darius Smiley said playing every quarter has been a point of emphasis this week during practice.
“We've made a heavy emphasis that we've got to play 48 minutes," Smiley said earlier this week. “We did a fine job in the first half versus Cedartown, but we fell kind of flat towards the back end and lost focus. Our kids understand that we have to keep that energy up in not just the first or second quarters, but all four in order to be successful.”
Smiley, in his first year, has brought a lot of enthusiasm to the Lions program following last season’s 0-10 finish in Larry Kesler’s one year in charge of the program.
Smiley, a former Lions’ offensive coordinator and boys’ basketball coach, has been able to rally the team.
Central actually jumped out to a 14-0 lead in the opening quarter against Cedartown, but had too many mistakes to maintain the lead.
Cedartown quarterback Trevon Wofford also played a large role in the comeback win.
Central is averaging 202 yards rushing per game with senior fullback Malcolm Brown leading the way with 450 yards and five touchdowns. Sophomore Braden Dunson has 200 yards rushing and four touchdowns.
“We have to be prepared to play fast, physical and with a focus,” said Panthers senior defense Tre Reeves, who had a fumble recovery for a touchdown against Sandy Creek.
“We have definitely learned from our mistakes against Starr’s Mill,” he said. “I believe the win over Sandy Creek has given us a lot of confidence.”
Chapel Hill quarterback K.J. Burton continues to lead the Panthers with 384 rushing yards and 726 passing yards with a combined 12 touchdowns.
Smiley is aware his team must try to contain the junior signal-caller for the Lions to have a chance to win.
“They do a lot on offense," Smiley said. "They run a complex offense where their quarterback does a lot of read-option type stuff and have some receivers that can make some plays, as well. They're not really big, but they do what they do and do it well. We're going to have to play a full 48 minutes of good football to come out on the road with a win.”
And DeShon said the same about his team.
“We got to be discipline in our approach on defense,” DeShon said. “We are ready to play four quarters of football. They will get four quarters of football out of us.”