Both teams are coming off big wins last week, but they were big for different reasons.
The Rebels (1-1) picked up a very important win against Temple last week after giving up a late lead to Central in their season opener. The win both erases some Week 1 demons while giving HC a little boost as they host Bowdon.
“First of all we needed that win because of what happened the week prior. We were close, so our kids and our program needed that win against Temple. We’ve got to get that momentum. Sometimes momentum is a finicky thing and it runs away from us sometimes, like the Central game,” HC coach Alan Lane said. “We got it back in the Temple game, we were able to maintain that.”
Bowdon (1-0) is also coming off a big win. While it wasn’t a region game and many coaches wouldn’t think of a season-opening win to be all that important, Red Devil coach Dwight Hochstetler believes that win carried some weight.
“It was one of our biggest wins we’ve ever had. We really didn’t know what to expect going into the game considering how inexperienced we were at skill positions on both sides of the football, plus Woodland had a veteran team. We were real pleased with how we performed. It was a big win for us and hopefully it gives us some momentum going into Haralson County,” Hochstetler said.
Now the Rebels are hoping to erase some bad recent history against Bowdon. With a victory Haralson County would win back-to-back games for the first time since October of 2010 and would win just the seventh time in 23 tries against the Red Devils.
“Right now we’re looking at two more weeks, two more games before region play. We’re trying to get better every week and in order to do that we have to get confidence. That confidence level comes from winning. It’s very important for us, it’s just hard to get that win when you’re playing folks like Bowdon,” Lane said.
The unfamiliar territory for the Rebels is the senior leadership at some key positions they have sometimes lacked in the past. Quarterback Bryce Wrenn, fullback Nii-Okai Reindorf and running back/defensive back Lane Fortune are giving HC a boost.
“We were looking at some film from last year and we can tell how much better Bryce has gotten, just from the leadership point of it. He’s able to control the team, control the sidelines and the kids while they’re on the field. His field management has gotten so much better. The way Nii-Okai is managing our team during practice. Really, sometimes with Nii-Okai and Bryce the coaches could actually go up and get a cup of coffee and let them finish. They are really pushing the other guys,” Lane said. “And the way Lane played last week is the way Lane needs to play every week. He had a couple down plays and got a little tired in the Central game so we’re trying to do somethings to help him out in that area.”
The Rebels are also getting help from receiver/defensive end Ryan Allen and offensive lineman Austin Foster as players without much experience that are coming into their own this season.
For Bowdon, who usually has that senior skill leadership, there are a lot of unknowns still on the field. Last week showed what the team can do, but the young squad still has to perform each week.
“Defensively I think Chris Keith had a big game, had an interception and made a few tackles. Connor Wigginton, probably, had his best game in a Bowdon uniform and I though a few on the defensive front — [Devonte] Peavy and [Austin] Bradley and [Slade] Parmer — those three did a great job controlling the line of scrimmage,” Hochstetler said. “Offensively I thought Logan Reeves had a great game blocking and [Jarod] McKey, I was impressed with his blocking and he made that one big run that second half around 70 yards. Then Darnell Holand did a good job running the football for us.”
The focus for both teams is ball control. Bowdon wants to stop the Rebels from the long drives and running ability of Reindorf.
“Just like any big ball game you’ve got to control the line of scrimmage. We can’t let their offense get on a roll, they’ve got those big backs. They’ve probably got the best back in this area. He’s going to be toting the mail, I’d say, 80 percent of the time,” Hochstetler said.
The Rebels will be focused on their game plan and not allowing the big plays — which Bowdon has shown even with a different cast, they are very capable of this season.
“It’s not going to change for us any week,” Lane said. “We don’t have the kind of kids to outscore. We have to play solid defense, control the ball and let the clock run. Hopefully at the end of the game we’ve got the ball and we’re running the clock out. We try to play ball control, we try to maintain possessions and prevent them from having extra possessions we have a chance.”