Duluth Wildcats (7-AAAAAAA)
Coach: Cam Jones
Last week: Lost to Lambert 26-10
Meadowcreek Mustangs (7-AAAAAAA)
Coach: Jason Carrera
Last week: Lost to East Coweta 42-27
Both Duluth and Meadowcreek realize this is a very important Region 7-AAAAAAA opener for teams with playoff hopes in a region that is expected to be wide open behind perennial playoff teams Norcross and Archer. The results thus far have been mixed for both teams with the Mustangs losing three straight since a win over Eagle’s Landing in the opener and the Wildcats falling to unbeaten Lambert last week.
The game will feature two of Gwinnett’s most productive running backs — Meadowcreek’s Rock Gaither and Duluth’s Nyle Ervin.
“This is a playoff game,” Carrera said. “We are all 0-0 in the region and this is an important game for us. Cam has worked hard to build a culture at Duluth, and he is doing a great job. They are much improved and have some good talent. Their D-line and linebackers are the strength of their team and they do a great job up front. The young QB (Lonnie Ratliff IV) throws the ball well and is very athletic and we will have to contain him when he gets out of the pocket. They do a lot of special teams that make them hard to prepare for.”
Jones expects a test from Meadowcreek, which has faced a challenging early-season schedule.
“Coach Jason Carrera and I have played every year that I have been a head coach in Georgia and last three he's had my number,” Jones said. “I have a lot of admiration for the program he has built. I think we both have a feel for one another and know that both teams will be well-coached on Friday night.
“So far this season, Meadowcreek has played some stiff competition in preparation for region play and although they are sitting at 1-3 we are approaching the game like they are 4-0. We all understand that this game could potentially have some playoff implications later in the season and its always good to get a region win early. We are approaching it like Round 1.”
Duluth’s defense has been solid through two games led by seniors Chris Oteng and Hunter Bean on the defensive line.
“An area where we have shown a lot of growth is on defense,” Jones said. “Our defensive staff is doing an outstanding job getting our kids prepared week in and week out.”
Jones also praised the work by his offensive line, which features senior George Kent and four juniors (Elijah Wood, Sterling Caldwell, Jarvis Mark, Max Zamorano).
When: Friday, 7:30 p.m.
Last meeting: Meadowcreek won 55-41 last year
Location: Meadowcreek High School