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Derrck Mahone/Douglas County Sentinel Douglas County coach Johnny White has the program ranked for the first time since the end of the 2005 season.

Johnny White explained to his team that there is only six inches that separate them from a pat on the back and a kick in the butt.

Right now, the Tigers in that pat on the back comfort zone.

Douglas County enters Friday’s home game against winless South Paulding at 3-0 and ranked for the first time in 12 years.

“We still got a lot of work to do,” White said. “I’m happy for the attention but we got to stay focus.”

The Tigers entered the week ranked No. 9 by the AJC weekly poll and No. 10 in the Georgia Sports Writers Association poll.

It is the first time since the Tigers have been ranked since the end of the 2005 season. The Tigers finished the 2005 season ranked fifth in the state after going 10-2 and advancing to second round of playoffs.

White said he doesn’t think the notoriety will change his team.

“It is the job of our coaches to keep everybody humble and working,” White said. “It is good for our program because this is what we have been working towards. People are looking up to us know. We got to step up and prepare even harder now. It is no sneaking up on anybody.”

Like much of the teams in the state, the Tigers must prepare for Friday’s game with only two days of preparation.

“We are treating Thursday like it is a Wednesday practice,” White said. “We will be working hard doing the best we can to get ready. I think we are fine mentally, we will be doing a lot of running. My main concern is endurance.”

The players say they are ready to get back to work.

“I’m real anxious,” Douglas County linebacker Braelen Oliver said. “It was good getting a break, but I’m ready for Friday.”

Offensively, the Tigers are averaging 419 yards per game, which is second in all of Class AAAAAA. Senior running back Uriah West is has rushed for 591 yards and five touchdowns to league the Region.

He is fifth in the state in rushing, fourth among GHSA schools.

Defensively, the Tigers have been solid with two shutout wins. In defeating Northgate, 21-0, last week, Douglas County was the first team to shutout the Vikings in 21-straight home games.

Oliver leads the team in tackles, and had 22 in the Northgate win. He said the team will still approach each week the same.

“Everybody on this team is humble,” he said. “I think if nothing else this has made us more hungry. We want more.”

The Tigers will face big challenges ahead on their schedule. Following Friday’s home game against South Paulding, the Tigers travel to No. 9 Langston Hughes (Sept. 22), host New Manchester (Sept. 29) and have a big matchup against defending region champion No. 4 Mays (Oct. 6).

“There is a bigger picture to the season,” White said. “We have to take it week-by-week and not get ahead of ourselves. We know people are looking for us.”

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