Greater Atlanta Christian will have an opportunity to take a step further than last season if it is able to come up with a win over Peach County at 7:30 p.m. on Friday in Fort Valley.
Last season, the Spartans’ season ended in the semifinals with a 45-20 loss to Pace Academy. This year, the Spartans won their first two games before losing their week-three matchup with Valor Christian out of Colorado. GAC head coach Tim Hardy didn’t look at the loss as a loss that would make or break the season.
“Any time you’re defeated, you really look hard at every aspect of where you are and what you’re doing,” Hardy said. “They had an outstanding team, and we had our chances and just didn’t deliver when we needed to, but really our focus is how we can better every day and how we can improve every week.”
Since the loss to Valor Christian, the Spartans have won their past 10 games. Hardy didn’t think the team not losing a game since the third week is something to worry about.
“It’s a total non-factor at all,” Hardy said. “I think we play pretty consistent football, and we need to continue to elevate all three phases of the game to be successful on Friday night.”
GAC’s most recent win was a 44-38 triple-overtime win over Liberty County last week, which was its closest margin since a 19-16 overtime win over Westminster-Atlanta in the second week.
“It’s playoff time, and everyone’s fighting for their playoff lives, and so both teams are going to give everything they have, and our game against Liberty County was exactly that,” Hardy said. “And that’s what it took, and we found a way, and so I think any experience you go through is an opportunity to strengthen you and make you better. But our focus have moved forward, and we’re looking forward to Friday night.”
Peach County is coming off a 27-17 win over Westminster. The Trojans are led by junior quarterback Antonio Gilbert — a dual threat who scored two rushing and two passing touchdowns last week. The Trojans’ defense held Westminster star running back Zay Malcome to 11 carries for 28 yards.
“We’re really impressed with Peach County, really impressed with the completeness of the team,” Hardy said. “They’re excellent in all three phrases, very diverse on offense, fast and physical on defense and outstanding in special teams both in their coverage units and in their specialists, kicker, returner, so you can tell they’re very well-coached, pay attention to detail. The guys play with heart, so it’s the semifinals; it should be a very high-level game, and that’s what it looks like it should be.”
GAC isn’t going to let Peach County’s dominant defensive performance change its offensive focus.
“For us our, philosophy doesn’t change, and we really believe that we need to be multidimensional in what we do so we’re committed to running it and throwing it at a high level,” Hardy said. “So that’s who we are and believe that’s what we need to be every Friday night.”