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Pats face Loganville in key clash

CONYERS - A loss can be deflating for any team, especially one that comes after five overtimes.

Such is the case for the Heritage Patriots.

Coming off a devastating 31-23 loss in five OTs to Clarke Central, Heritage is eagerly anticipating its next opponent Friday as it welcomes Loganville.

"We are resilient," Heritage coach Chad Frazier said. "These guys will bounce back knowing that we are a very good team and that there is a lot still at stake."

Indeed there is.

For the Patriots, a win puts them smack dab in the hunt. They are tied with Madison and Habersham Central for fourth in Region 8-AAAA.

"It will be huge," Frazier said. "We preach every day the next game is the biggest, and that is certainly true this week. Beating Loganville puts us right back in the mix."

Meanwhile, Loganville is tied with Rockdale and Apalachee for second in the region, resting only behind Clarke Central.

The Red Raiders know exactly where they stand and what they have to do - something they haven't done against the Patriots in six years.

"In order to win the region, we have to beat Heritage," Loganville coach Eric Godfree said. "For the top four in the region, a loss won't do us in, but it will make for an uphill battle with the rest of our season. We try to be 1-0 each Friday night, and this might be our biggest challenge of the season thus far.

"Heritage is an excellent football team that executes very well. They have our coaching staff very concerned about Friday night."

Concerns begin with stopping Heritage's offense. The Patriots are averaging a robust 28 points per game and have a handful of playmakers who can make any opposing coach cringe.

"The key for us is to maintain drives on offense," Godfree said. "They have a lot of weapons on their offense and can score any time they touch the ball."

According to Godfree, Heritage's speed and athleticism both play a major concern in deciding whether or not Loganville will win.

"They are a good football team," Godfree said. "On film, they seem to be one of the best teams in the region. They could easily be undefeated at this point. They play good football on both sides of the ball."

Defensively, Heritage is allowing 20.6 points per game, something Frazier hopes to decrease come Friday.

"Our focus this week is to sharpen up what we do," Frazier said. "A lot of the things we are doing are good. We just need to improve in some areas, minimize mistakes and take advantage of our opportunities."

Offensively, Loganville is averaging just a shade over three touchdowns at 19 points a game.

"They run the football well, and they have taken advantage of some fortunate breaks," Frazier said. "They are a lot like us in that they have been in some close games. The difference is that they have found a way to win them."

On the defensive side of the ball, Loganville has limited opponents to just 14.3 points per game.

"Loganville has not given up much in the way of points scored," Frazier noted. "Their defense has been playing well. We have been fortunate to score a lot of points so far and I sense it will be a game a lot like the one we just played against Clarke.

"If our offensive line plays like they are capable of then we will have a big night. Defensively, we cannot afford to give up the big play."

Jason Murdock can be reached at jason.murdock@rockdalecitizen.com.

SideBar: If You Go

Who: Loganville Red Raiders at Heritage

Patriots

When: Friday, 7:30 p.m.

Where: Evans Memorial Stadium

Series: Tied at 3-3

Last meeting: Heritage won 52-24 in 2005