The Eagles (7-3) opened the season with a six-game winning streak before losing three of their final four games. Coach Dave Svehla said that the Eagles, aside from their loss to Walton, have continued to play at a high level, and the competition has improved as well.
“We played good football teams,” he said. “Those three games were games we certainly feel like we were in, aside from Walton when we just didn’t play well enough to win at all.”
After Etowah failed to win last week, when it could have clinched the Region 5AAAAAA title, and it was nearly knocked out of the playoffs altogether, Svehla said the Eagles are simply excited to still be playing.
“We have to be happy to have the opportunity to play,” Svehla said. “We were 7-3 this year. We had a pretty good football season. I think we played some pretty good teams in our region at the end of the season, and the last couple of games didn’t go the way we wanted. But when you look at our team over 10 games, I think our kids deserve to be here.”
Svehla said his players have learned some necessary lessons, including one that big players make big-time plays when they have to. Tonight, the Eagles will be traveling to face a Norcross team with playing of big-time players.
The Blue Devils finished as the No. 1 seed from Region 7AAAAAA after winning a series of coin flips. At 8-2, Norcross certainly earned the spot.
Senior quarterback A.J. Bush and fullback Joshua Boyd drive the offense, but it’s the defense Etowah might need to worry about.
The Blue Devils have held opposing teams at bay for much of the season, and the Eagles haven’t had much success when they don’t score at least three touchdowns in a game. In many cases, Etowah has simply just matched its opponent score-for-score before pulling away late.
Tonight, the Eagles won’t have a chance to keep pace if they don’t get through the Blue Devil defense.
As the lower seed Etowah will be on the road, but Svehla feels the location of the game in a non-factor.
“If we are intimated playing there, we shouldn’t be playing,” he said. “This is what competitive people like about playing sports. We know that we are going on the road and going to play a talented team, but the focus this week has been more on ourselves and being accountable and knowing what are responsibilities and roles are this week.”
That isn’t to say that Etowah’s coach doesn’t have a healthy respect for Norcross.
“When we step on the field (tonight), I just know there is nothing that we can do about them,” Svehla said. “It’s what we do about us.”