Archer Tigers (8-AAAAAAA)
Coach: Andy Dyer
Record: 6-3, 3-1
Last week: Beat South Gwinnett 56-23
Shiloh Generals (8-AAAAAAA)
Coach: Tino Ierulli
Record: 7-2, 2-2
Last week: Lost to Newton 35-28
The stakes are high when the Archer invades Shiloh Community Stadium on Friday for the Region 8-AAAAAAA finale for both teams.
The winner will walk away with the No. 2 state playoff seed from the region, and the first-round home game that comes with it, a position few outside observers would’ve expected from the host Generals before the season, and one they are grateful to still be in after last week’s gut-wrenching late loss to Newton.
And with the prospect of falling all the way to the No. 4 seed with a loss Friday, there is more more on the line for them than the Tigers, who will fall no further than the No. 3 seed with a loss.
But instead of looking at it as a pressure situation, Tino Ierulli says his players look at as more of an opportunity.
“I just told them, ... ‘The same result can be obtained with a win (even with last week’s loss),” the first-year Shiloh coach said. “We’ve just tog to eliminate the stupid things, especially with (mistakes in) alignment.”
Avoiding mistakes is also on the mind of Archer coach Andy Dyer, whose No. 9 state-ranked Tigers have done a solid job of minimizing their miscues throughout the season.
But with as solid a defense as Shiloh has, particularly in the pass rush with the likes of defensive end Jasheen Davis and outside linebacker Isaac Prince, the onus is on an offensive line led by Derek Harden to protect Archer skill players like quarterback Carter Peevy room to operate, and thus keep the chances of potential game-changing turnovers to a minimum.
“The No. 1 state (in football), is turnovers,” Dyer said. “We’ve got to create turnovers (on defense) and we’ve got to take care of the football (on offense). If you look, in our losses (this season), we’ve come up short in that respect.
“We treat all our region games like the start of the playoffs. (The players) know what’s at stake, so we’ve just got to go play and play very well.”
Last meeting: Archer won 35-7 last year
Location: Shiloh High School