And the Bowdon High School football team will look to continue playing the role of the contender Friday night when it hosts Manchester at 7:30 p.m. at Warren P. Sewell Field for homecoming.
Red Devil coach Dwight Hochstetler obviously likes where his team is sitting two games into the region slate, but he knows the Blue Devils also have playoff ambitions this fall — not to mention the talent to take them there.
“We knew going into the season that Manchester would be one of the top dogs in the region. They’ve been in this region for a long time and we knew the type of football they play, so we know they’re going to be tough,” Hochstetler said. “Defensively, they haven’t allowed many points to be scored against them. They’re just now clicking on offense. They had a rough going the first game against Greenville, but they scored  points last week against Spencer. So we feel like they’re going to be one of the top dogs in the region.”
The Blue Devils (2-1, 1-0 Region 5-AA) were off last week, while the No. 8 Red Devils (4-0, 2-0) made quick work of Chattahoochee County in a 35-6 thumping in Cusseta to maintain their solid ground in the region picture.
Hochstetler said Manchester makes you play assignment football defensively by running some packages you don’t see very often these days, noting that it’ll run split backs out of the Veer offensively and base out of a Jap 5 defensively.
Friday night’s showdown also offers a trip down memory lane for Hochstetler in more ways than one. Not only will the Red Devil coach try to get his first win against Manchester — Bowdon suffered a 24-14 setback in 1999 and lost 37-13 in 1998 — it is also where Hochstetler began his legendary coaching career.
Hochstetler, who can move into a fourth-place tie with Luther Welsh (323) for career victories in the state of Georgia on Friday, served as an assistant coach at Manchester for four and a half years in the 1970s before transferring to Greenville High School in February of 1978 and staring its football program, where he would go on to win two of his three career state titles.
And while there may be a bit of nostalgia running through the Red Devil head man’s veins this week, he shrugged it off as a thing of the past and wanted to focus on the present task at hand — which is a big-time region ball game this Friday night in Bowdon.
“Ah, it’s been so long ago you don’t even think about it. It’s an important region game that the loser of this game is probably going to be fighting for third and fourth place. So we don’t want to get behind the 8-ball. I’m sure Manchester realizes how important it is, too,” Hochstetler said. “As far as coaching there, that’s in the dark ages. I don’t even really think about that.”