It was only Monday morning, and David Bruce was already wishing it was Friday night.
The Veterans head coach will lead his team into a meeting Friday at unbeaten Mary Persons that will decide the GHSA Region 2-AAAA champion. One win away from securing the programs first winning season, the current situation is a far cry from where the Warhawks were in their first three years of existence.
We actually were a little disappointed that we werent in this position last year, but things just didnt work out, said Bruce, whose team (5-3, 5-0 region) has rebounded from an 0-3 start to post five straight region wins. The thing that is so good about this bunch of kids and the coaches we have is that we never even thought about giving up after our start this year. We learned a lot of lessons in those first three games and stayed positive throughout. I have a great coaching staff and some very resilient kids.
Veterans will rely heavily on quarterback Logan Byrd, who has thrown for 647 yards and rushed for another 486, while running back Ben Thomas rushed for 137 yards in last weeks 31-21 win over West Laurens.
The Warhawks not only clinched their first playoff spot with last weeks win, but they also wrapped up a first-round home game. The prize of the region title, however, still hangs in the balance.
Its been a few years since I have coached in a game that can decide a region championship, and I am just as excited as I can be. Mary Persons is an outstanding football team with great coaching, and we know we have a difficult task ahead of us especially being on the road. But I am sure we will have a lot of fans show up, and it will be a great playoff atmosphere. I expect it will come down to who makes the fewest mistakes, but it will definitely be a great old-fashioned, hard-hitting football game.
Mary Persons (8-0, 5-0) will counter with running back Dee High, who has 734 yards rushing and 12 touchdowns, and quarterback Cal King, who has thrown for 1,003 yards and nine touchdowns. The Bulldogs also have defensive back/offensive threat Akebren Ralls, who has close to 700 yards on the offensive side of the ball to go with seven touchdowns.
(Ralls) is obviously a great athlete and is a very important player for us, but we need each and every player we have to play their best football game this Friday night, Mary Persons head coach Brian Nelson said. I told the guys that what is so great about high school football is playing meaningful games on Friday night in front of a great home crowd in a great environment.
I have been impressed the last three years the way Veterans coaching staff has their team ready to play. They have hard-nosed kids who are fundamentally sound, and we expect a great football game. I know that both teams are going to stick with what they do best. This is really going to be a tough one for us.