Head coach David Bruce doesn’t want his team to play catch-up. Last year made that clear. A victory in Veterans’ first GHSA Region 2-AAAA game Friday would keep his Warhawks from falling behind.
Veterans sits at 1-3 after a brutal four-game non-region stretch against Houston County, Macon County, Washington County and Valdosta -- teams that posted a combined 42-9 record last season.
After a 56-7 loss on the road at Bazemore–Hyder Stadium, Bruce and company took full advantage of last week’s off week to make necessary tweaks.
“(Valdosta) put it on us,” Bruce said. “We played with them well in the first half, but the wheels fell off. There were certain things we needed to work on this week like setting the edge and our pinching and slanting angles. On offense, we had to work on sticking on blocks until the whistle blows and making sure we ran the correct route combinations.”
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Getting the first region win won’t be an easy task. Baldwin doesn’t want to fall behind, either. The Braves (3-2) couldn’t complete a late comeback last week against region foe Upson-Lee in a 29-21 loss.
The Warhawks don’t want a repeat of 2014. Veterans lost its first six games but managed to win three of four to close the season. They finished at 3-3 in the region, earning a playoff bid. But the Warhawks were eliminated in the first round by Cairo, 24-7. Friday’s game can set the tone in region play.
“You want to get off to a good start. You don’t want to play catch-up. We did that last season. It took everything we could to get that fourth seed,” Bruce said.
Bruce said his team is focusing on the Braves 6-foot-4, 237-pound defensive end Malik Clark and a potent rushing attack led by running back LaTraious Saulsberry, but Bruce doesn’t want his team’s focus to be too narrow.
“We know that Baldwin is dangerous, and they have some really good athletes. You can’t focus on one aspect,” he said. “We want to come out and do all the little things. Hold on to the ball. Don’t throw interceptions. Don’t put it on the turf.”
Friday night will be a fight to stay ahead in the region, which appears to be balanced.
“(Baldwin) is well-coached,” Bruce said. “(Baldwin head coach Lee) Hannah does a good job with them. They’re going to come out and play hard. I know that.”