Just when it seemed like the Heritage season couldn't get more heartbreaking, things fell apart again Friday night in Winder.
Having just gotten to within a point of Apalachee on a one-yard scoring run by quarterback Andre Wilson, the Patriots needed only to make an extra point to tie the game with just under two minutes to play. But nothing has come easy for the Heritage in 2009, and the tying kick was no different as a bad snap wouldn't allow the Patriots to even attempt the kick and the Wildcats remained unbeaten and captured the Region 8-AAAA crown.
After losing 21-3 to Salem on opening night, the Patriots' last five losses have come by a combined 24 points.
"We continue to preach hard work and doing things right and doing it for each other and for ourselves," Heritage coach Chad Frazier said. "When you have season like this you get naysayers. We've got some very resilient kids that love the competition. A lot of other groups might have tanked it by now, but fortunately our kids haven't."
With the playoffs out of reach in one the most competitive leagues in Class AAAA, Frazier's focus has moved to finishing in the season strong, starting with Friday's game against Monroe Area. The Patriots have at least two things going for them: It's senior night and the visiting Purple Hurricanes are having an even more frustrating season than Heritage, coming into this weekend as the only winless team in the region.
Monroe is on an 18-game losing streak that goes back to last season's 0-10 mark, its first since moving up a classification. But Frazier need only to look at his own team's last two months to know nothing is going to come easy.
"For us, the approach with the kids has been we got Monroe this week, it's the biggest thing on our schedule this year because it's next," Frazier said. "We've got to be prepared, if not we're going to be embarrassed. It's just one day at a time, one game at a time. Even though we know the season ends in two weeks, we don't really talk about it. It's senior night this week and it'll be their last home game. We really want to send them out on a win at home."
Despite the winless record, Monroe has been in every game since dropping its first three games by a combined 78 points. A case could even be made that Monroe has had just as heartbreaking of a month as Heritage. The Purple Hurricanes' last five defeats have come by a combined 34 points, and quarterback Demontavious Smith and tailback Tre'shard Burdette anchor an offense that is averaging 23 points in its last four games.
"They are athletic on offense, they've got a very fast quarterback and two or three skill kids that can run as well," Frazier said. "They run some option as well. We've got tackle well in space (and) contain them."
SideBar: At a glance
· Who: Monroe-Area Purple Hurricanes (0-8) at Heritage Patriots (2-6)
· Where: Charles Evans Stadium, Conyers
· When: 7:30 p.m. Friday
· Last week: Heritage lost to Apalachee, 24-23; Monroe-Area lost to Loganville, 34-25
· Series: Heritage leads 1-0
· Last season: Heritage won 40-12