Coming off its open week, the Haralson County High School football team returns to region action tonight at 7:30 p.m. when Douglass visits Taylor Memorial Stadium for a Region 4-AAA showdown.
"I am [ready]. I don't know if the kids are, but I am. It seems like it's been forever since we played. We're excited about it and ready to get back into [the season]," HC coach Alan Lane said.
The Rebels (2-2, 0-1 Region 4-AAA) started the season with a region loss against Central and are looking to get in the win column for the first time in region play. Lane hopes momentum from a 24-17 win against Coosa on Sept. 14 can carry over two weeks later.
"We've tried to do that, and hopefully with the same type of game plan we had then it can turn into some positive things for us. Our offensive line has gotten better, our secondary seems to be tightening up and playing a lot better and our special teams has gotten back into the game and seems to be a little ahead of the offense now," Lane said. "We feel like that game helps us out, as far as what we're trying to do and trying to get done the rest of the year."
Meanwhile, the Astros (1-3, 0-1) will also have a boost coming off their first win of the season — a 14-0 road victory at Towers last week. The HC staff expects a quick and athletic team lining up against it on Friday night.
"We've gotten a lot of tape on them and they're what we thought they were going to be. A lot of speed, a lot of skill personnel. Their defensive line, some of them have running back numbers, so it's kind of scary when you have a defensive lineman with the No. 23 out there," Lane said. "They have a lot of speed, and that's going to be an issue for us the rest of the year ... it comes back to the same old thing — a little bit of a grind trying to play ball-control and make sure we don't have mistakes on offense."
Haralson County had physical practices during its off week leading to some dings here and there, but the biggest boost for the Rebels might be the return of tight end/defensive end Seth Neeley, who has not played since the season opener against Central.
The 6-foot-6, 217-pound senior injured his knee in the game and will see his first action since then tonight. The one concern for Lane is how well Neeley is able to come out after being out of game action for almost a month.
"You saw a little bit in the Central game what [Neeley] is capable of doing. Hopefully, he's back into that same mode at this point in time. It's hard taking a whole month off trying to get well. Hopefully, he won't miss a beat and hopefully he'll be that guy that we need at certain times and he can help out and make plays for us again. I don't see why he shouldn't. Hopefully, this past week going live in full practices has helped out. But that's a concern," Lane said.
"We got after it pretty hard last week and probably have more injuries, as far as nicks and dings, than we have all year. But we're overcoming that and just a few bruises and bumps. We're getting a lot more healthier at this point in time. We feel like [Friday] night we are going to be healthier than we have been all year."
Following the season-opening setback, the Rebels have been sitting in the region cellar and now finally have the chance to get back in the hunt tonight.
"It's huge since we lost to Central. We've got to get a win in there quick in order to have an opportunity to be in the playoff hunt again, because right now we're 0-1. We're at the bottom. So we really got to get this win. If we can get this one and something a little bit more in our favor, it would be a huge help," Lane said.