After falling to Callaway, 14-10, last week, the Lions (4-3, 3-1 Region 4-AAA) know they can play against anyone in the region. The next task will be on the road against Rockmart tonight at 7:30 p.m.
“Our kids actually came out on Monday and were extremely confident. I believe that as we move forward each day with our program, they know they played well. They understand the mistakes. It just helped to drive home the point we try to teach around here — the little things make big things. Ultimately, in big games with all things equal, it’s going to be the little things that determine who the winner and the loser is. We learned that last week,” Central coach Grant Chesnut said.
Those little things amounted to a pair of turnovers and allowing a late drive defensively in the loss. The Yellow Jackets (2-4, 1-2) are in a similar situation after a double-overtime, two-point loss against Haralson County, where they held a 16-6 lead at halftime and a 22-14 lead in the fourth quarter.
“We’re going to see a highly-motivated Rockmart team. We’re going up there on their homecoming. We’re not going to sneak up on them whatsoever, so we’re going to have to play very well to beat them,” Chesnut said.
Even though Rockmart has been on the wrong end of some tough games this season — it lost by one point in its region opener against Chapel Hill — they have plenty of talent. The most notable is 6-foot-3 receiver/defensive back Kwame Peek, but the Lion defense can’t get caught up in trying to stop just one player.
“They are very talented. Not only do they have [Peek], they also have several other kids that are very athletic. They have some size and they are a good football team. It will be very much like last week. It’s the same thing. We’re going to have to control possession, play smart, swarm the ball on defense and make sure we don’t leave our guys in one-on-one situations,” Chesnut said.
A win tonight wouldn’t seal the first playoff appearance for the Lions since 2008 — or even the first winning record since 2005 — but it would put Central in a good position to achieve both in the final two weeks of the regular season. While a winning record, a playoff berth and a game at home in the postseason is what every team strives for, the second-year coach doesn’t believe those things not happening would mean the 2012 season was a bust. That being said, the focus is still playing in Week 11.
“I don’t believe we have to make the playoffs to have a successful season this year. I think we’ve already had a successful season because of the improvement. Our kids feel it, our community sees it, there’s just a tremendous amount of confidence around here that we’re headed in the right direction. I don’t know that not making the playoffs will change that. I want to be clear, though. Our goal is to make the playoffs this year, host a home playoff game and in the future be playing for region championships. That’s the goal for us here. We just have to keep working at it one day and one game at a time,” Chesnut said.