Norcross Blue Devils (7-AAAAAAA)
Coach: Keith Maloof
Last week: Lost to Archer 31-0
Central Gwinnett Black Knights (7-AAAAAAA)
Coach: Todd Wofford
Last week: Lost to Dacula 49-28
Two teams that have mirrored each other in that they’ve struggled off to 0-4 starts against a rough non-region schedule — the two teams’ eight opponents have a combined record of 25-9 thus far — get to wipe the slate clean against each other Friday at Tally Johnson Field.
And both Norcross coach Keith Maloof and his Central counterpart Todd Wofford are very much looking forward to the opportunity to start anew in 7-AAAAAAA play.
“We’re all 0-0 now, and we’ve got to come out ready to play,” Maloof said. “Everybody is wanting to start off well in region play. We’ve just got to play our brand of football. We did some really good things (in a loss to Archer) last week, but we’ve just got to play with intensity, finish (better) and play four (full) quarters.”
Indeed, the Blue Devils have shown some flashes of promise throughout the season so far, including from experienced players like receiver Jaylen Green (10-150, 3 TDs) and safety Josh Graham (15 tackles, 1 INT).
The latter and his defensive cohorts will be challenged by a Central offense that has put up 62 points the past two weeks behind quarterback Skylar Adams (62-107-4, 964 yds, 8 TDs), receiver Daejon Reynolds (33-488, 3 TDs) and running back Justin Wilkins (462 yards total offense, 4 combined TDs).
But like Maloof, Wofford has concerns about his defense, especially in third-down situations, which the Black Knights paid particular attention to during practice this week.
“The last two weeks, the biggest thing is getting the defense off the field,” Wofford said. “We’ve been getting the offense going the past few weeks, but last week (in a loss to Dacula), we had four (different) third-and-long situation, and whether it was penalties or just giving up a big play, it extended drives and led to touchdowns.
“(Central and Norcross) have mirrored each other … in that we’ve both been battled tested, and both have had things to corn up before region. I guess we’ll look to see if we’ve both made those improvements.”
Last meeting: Norcross won 52-19 last year
Location: Central Gwinnett High School