What they do not have to wait for, however, is the assurance of knowing they have the best winning percentage among the six Cherokee County teams.
Tonight, in a Region 7AA crossover game in Chatsworth, River Ridge (7-2) can collect victory No. 8 with a win at North Murray, which would mark one of the state’s biggest one-season turnarounds this year. River Ridge completed the 2010 season with a mark of 2-7 in varsity play.
Records aside, Knights coach Robert Braucht is simply concerned with collecting one win Friday night, as opposed to becoming fixated on the cumulative tally.
“We’re just trying to do our best with what we have,” he said. “I don’t think there’s a coach in the county, for any sport, that wouldn’t rather be winning than losing. I think it’s special for any team, no matter their record, to finish with a win.”
Braucht also downplayed the significance of producing the highest possible winning percentage on behalf of his county brethren, many of whom have slumped this fall. Etowah is the only local team that will be bound for the playoffs, and even if the Eagles pick up win No. 6 tonight at Lassiter, they would have to reach the quarterfinal round to surpass River Ridge’s potential eight-win total.
“I wouldn’t go as far as to say we’re trying to carry the flag for Cherokee County,” said Braucht.
But Braucht did not downplay the importance of ending the season on a high note in order to continue the program’s quick upward trend heading into the offseason.
The Knights have reaped the fruits of their collective labor this fall, avenging six of their seven losses from last season. Braucht said an infectious level of commitment has expedited the growth process, and the team is hopeful and ready to make its mark undertaking a region slate in 2012.
“There are a lot of kids that come out for football,” Braucht said, “and they can’t stick it out, or they can’t handle the self-sacrifice that has to go on on a daily basis on and off the field. I’ve seen our growth the most in terms of consistency, loyalty and work ethic.
“I’ve been saying it since day one — this is a tremendous group of kids. They’re very special and they want to be a part of something special.”
River Ridge will have the opportunity to avenge yet another defeat Friday — two, in fact.
In 2009, their first year of competition, the Knights faced North Murray twice during a five-game junior varsity schedule and lost both matchups with the Mountaineers, 34-6 and 40-33.
Though North Murray enters this year’s meeting winless at 0-9, Braucht said the Mountaineers hold an advantage in numbers and experience, and they should not be taken lightly.
“They’re a very senior-laden team. You look at their roster, there are maybe five to six juniors playing both sides, and everybody else is a senior,” Braucht said. “They dress 80 to 90 on the sidelines, so you can tell they’re a very mature team.”