Trailing 14-0 in the fourth quarter last week against Madison County, the Heritage football team was staring a sixth loss in the face. But this time the Patriots played the role of the comeback kings, getting a 57-yard touchdown run from Garry Peters to cap a 21-point quarter and stun the Red Raiders 21-20.
"Finally got us one of those close wins," said Heritage coach Chad Frazier, who has seen his team lose to Habersham Central, Clarke Central and Winder-Barrow by a combined 12 points. "It's going to lift (the players) up; it's a big win, a great effort by our kids, especially down 14-0 going into second half, they deserve it. Certainly, the hard work, the effort ... being positive, lifting each other up, we've done a lot of that. Just trying to stick together as a team.
So many people outside our program kind of doubt us, the kids have been really great about it, proving we are a good football team even though the record doesn't show."
With the upset victory over Madison as a backdrop, the Patriots have a chance to make that 2-5 record look even better with another upset victory, this time at Region 8-AAAA leader and undefeated Apalachee. Facing the Wildcats, a team averaging nearly 30 points per game, is the biggest challenge Frazier's team will confront in 2009. But the coach is hoping last year's shutout of Apalachee, and the experience some of the younger players got in a split of the freshman and junior varsity team's games against the Barrow County school this season, will help this weekend.
"They are (a) very well-coached team; very good program, they do a great job," Frazier said. "Last year they came over here, we beat them 20-0, played great. We've already played their ninth and junior varsity teams, our younger teams got a feel (and) we've seen them on film.They're just solid, (a) very solid team. We've just (got) to continue our efforts, put a scheme together, have a great week of practice and execute."
The Patriots, who could easily be 5-2 if not for turnover problems and a handful of missed assignments on defense, finally won the turnover battle against Madison, and Frazier doesn't feel like his team is intimidated by anyone, especially the unbeaten region front-runners.
"It was nice to be in the plus column on turnovers this week," Frazier said of the five-turnover victory over Madison. "If we take care of the ball and tackle well ... I think we'll be alright. Our kids, if we're playing the Dallas Cowboys, we line up and give it our best effort."
Kurt Aschermann Jr. can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
SideBar: HERITAGE AT APALACHEE
· Who: Heritage Patriots (2-5) at Apalachee Wildcats (7-0)
· Where: W. Clair Harris Stadium, Winder
· When: 7:30 p.m. Friday
· Last week: Heritage defeated Madison County, 21-20; Apalachee defeated Loganville, 42-41 in overtime
· Series: Heritage leads 1-0
· Last season: Heritage won 20-0