The Bowdon High School football coach will lead his squad into its Region 5-AA opener when Kendrick comes to Warren P. Sewell Field on Friday night for the 7:30 p.m. kickoff, marking a new chapter for Red Devil football upon moving up to the Class AA level.
Hochstetler has been pleased with a productive non-region performance from his ball club, earning victories at Woodland (Ala.) and Haralson County, along with scrimmaging at Handley (Ala.).
The Red Devil coach is hopeful that playing in front of the home crowd for the first time in 2012 will provide an added jolt to get off to a strong start in region action.
“Our kids are anxious to wear the red jerseys and perform before our home crowd. Our community always supports us well at home. So they’re anxious for us to come play where the ‘B’s at. Our kids are anxious and they realize it’s a big ball game, the first region opponent. It’ll be the first time Bowdon’s played a double-A opponent as a region opponent,” Hochstetler said.
The Cherokees (0-2) are coming off a 21-20 overtime loss to Marion County — which reached the second round of the Class A state playoffs last season before bowing out to Bremen — and also suffered a 25-6 setback to Americus-Sumter in the season opener.
Kendrick has struggled in recent years, with its last winning season coming in 1995 and is 5-37 under fifth-year coach Jerry Dukes. Still, Hochstetler said the Cherokees are not a team the Red Devils can afford to look past at this point in the season.
“Kendrick is pretty tough. They’re extremely big up front, so that’s going to be a challenge. They run the Wishbone and they run the power game. We haven’t seen much finesse out of it. They’ve got some athletes on defense that run extremely well to the ball,” Hochstetler said.
Bowdon (2-0) has looked impressive in its pair of wins to open the season, knocking off Woodland, 34-14, and then Haralson County last week, 32-14.
The Red Devils broke loose for several long touchdown runs in the win over the Rebels, led by a three touchdown showing from junior halfback Chris Keith, while Jarod McKey also had a strong night running the ball.
Bowdon, which cracked the AP top-10 poll at No. 10 this week in Class AA, has never played Kendrick before and Hochstetler expects an intense contest come Friday. He is confident a pair of tough non-region games has his team ready to roll into region action.
“Everything’s been going pretty good this week. We’re real pleased to be 2-0 considering the opponents we’ve played. We thought our non-region opponents were very good. Both of them had a lot of players returning. I’m just extremely pleased with how well we performed against Woodland and Haralson County,” Hochstetler said.
“I thought we improved a lot last week. Our goal is always to improve each week and not to peak too early. We’ve come a long ways since we started fall practice in July. But our kids realize that we’ve still got a long ways to go to be where we want to be as far as a football team.”