It isn’t an easy path for the Wildcats, who will host Rome this Friday night at 7:30 p.m. before wrapping the season up against North Paulding. That being said, VR has won four of its last six games and is coming off a 34-14 win against New Manchester last week.
“It makes the kids feel good — winning always makes you feel better than losing. We’re sitting here now with the last two games and you don’t know what’s going to happen, but we’re still in the playoff hunt. Hopefully, that gets them fired up and ready to play,” VR coach Mike Falleur said.
The Wildcats (4-4, 4-4 Region 5-AAAAA) also get another boost, a return to Sam McIntyre Field. The last two weeks have been on the road, but the final two games of the year will be played right in VR’s backyard.
“It’s always nice to play at home where you can walk right outside your door and you’re there. And then when it’s over, you’re there and you don’t have to get on a school bus and ride back. That does make a difference,” Falleur said.
There is plenty on the line for the visiting Wolves (6-2, 6-2), who are still fighting for a playoff spot and their only two losses have come to the ranked, undefeated teams atop the region standings. Rome boasts a one-two punch in the backfield, with junior running backs Myron Washington and Frank Griffin. Washington is coming off a two-touchdown night, while Griffin had the third-longest run in school history — a 91-yard score — last week.
Defensively, the Wolves base out of the same 3-3 Stack that VR does, but they do some different things out of the formation.
“They have two very good running backs, they’re fast and hard to bring down. They run the ball extremely hard. They’re a Wing-T team that likes to run the Jet and the Buck and the G, try to lull you to sleep doing that and then try to hit you with play-action for a big play. They don’t make many mistakes. They’re a good football team,” Falleur said.
So far this season, the Wildcats have done a good job taking advantage of games they felt like they had a chance to win. Now the focus will be trying to win a pair of games down the stretch against the current No. 3 and No. 4 teams in the Region 5-AAAAA standings.
“I think it would be really big. I’m not going to say we should have beaten the teams we’ve beaten. I think we were well-matched. I felt like those were the games we should have a chance to win. I feel like these next two games — obviously, [Rome] and North Paulding are both 6-2, and have had very good years — I still feel like they’re teams with where we’re currently at that we can match up with. It’s just going to come down to who makes the plays on Friday,” Falleur said. “If we can do that, I think it will be a heck of a game.”
But at this point of the year with two games left, the second-year VR coach is pleased with how his team has risen to the occasion, even with significant youth and inexperience on the team.
“Coming into this, we knew we were going to be young this year and, I guess, the second year in a building process to get to where we want to go. You didn’t really know how the young ones are going to respond, but I’ve been very pleased with the way they’ve played all year. They’ve grown up and the seniors have done a good job of providing leadership. We’re right in the fold of where we need to be. We just need to keep working and play hard,” Falleur said.