It's not a stretch to say that the 2009 Rockdale football team could be 8-0, rather than 5-3, heading into Friday's home finale.
The Bulldogs' three losses - to Region 8-AAAA champion Apalachee and local foes Heritage and Salem - have come by a combined 17 points. But while an undefeated season was washed away with that three-game losing streak during a rough September, Rockdale has a chance to complete a perfect October.
Riding a four-game win streak, sparked by huge road wins at Clarke Central and Habersham Central, the Bulldogs control their own destiny for a playoff spot as high-powered Loganville comes to Reid Stadium.
"The kids are really coming together," Rockdale coach Mike Etheridge said. "We've got everybody well and healthy and that's a big factor right now. They've been focused every game. We've got some goals we're trying to reach. Getting by Habersham was real big, now we just got to get ready for Loganville."
Both Rockdale and the visiting Red Devils are 5-3 and in a log jam for third place in the region race with Madison County and Salem, just a game back of Clarke Central (6-2) . If that wasn't enough motivation for Etheridge's crew, stopping Loganville's high-octane spread (33.8 points per game), which includes soon-to-be Division I tailback Storm Johnson, should be. Rockdale's defense, which surrenders 14 points per game, appears to be up for the task.
"We plan on stopping them, trying to be physical," Etheridge said. "I don't think you can stop (Johnson) completely, but I think we can slow him down quite a bit. We're pretty good on defense (and) were going to get after him, hopefully things they haven't seen."
One thing Loganville, which has won four of five since starting the year 1-2, hasn't seen the 2009 version of Isaiah Gresham. The Rockdale quarterback, one of 22 seniors playing their final regular season home game, has developed into one of the most complete signal callers in the region, helping the Bulldogs' offense through their best offensive stretch of the season. In last week's win over Habersham Central, Gresham's 42-yard run set up Rockdale's first touchdown in a 350-yard rushing effort, and Etheridge is hoping for more of the same from his quarterback and fellow seniors in the backfield, Rashawn Binns, Kyle Tippins and Tavaris Williams.
"We've gotten better every week. We're very fortunate to have excellent skill people at every position," Etheridge said of the offense. "We're going to do our best (to) keep the ball away (from Loganville).
SideBar: At a glance
· Who: Loganvile Red Devils (5-3) at Rockdale Bulldogs (5-3)
· Where: Reid Stadium
· When: 7:30 p.m. today
· Last week: Rockdale defeated Habersham Central 34-14; Loganville defeated Monroe Area 34-25
· Series: Tied 3-3
· Last season: Loganville won 7-6