CONYERS - Just 13 days ago, the Heritage football team watched Habersham Central score a late touchdown to win a one-point game, knocking the Patriots to 0-2 in Region 8-AAAA.
For some teams, panic would've set in. For Heritage, it was more about looking ahead to eight more Region 8-AAAA games. Last week was a good start as the Patriots nipped local rival Rockdale 14-10, in a seesaw game.
Heritage coach Chad Frazier doesn't look at the big win last week necessarily as a momentum builder, but rather a step in the right direction for a team still trying to find itself. Now, struggling Winder-Barrow (in the same position Heritage was in after two games 0-2), welcomes the Patriots to W. Clair Harris Stadium.
"It was great to see the competitiveness in our kids," Frazier said of the Rockdale win. "Being up then getting behind and then coming back in the fourth quarter against a very talented team, that is huge. As far as momentum and the games coming up on our schedule, our strategy is not so much focusing on who we're playing as much as it is playing together and for ourselves."
One area of play that has been solid throughout the season's first three weeks has been the defense. After allowing 14 first-half points to Salem on opening night, the Patriots have surrendered 30 points in the last 10 quarters. Despite the winless record, the versatile Winder-Barrow offense has averaged 21 points per game.
"Winder will be in the spread offense one series and then in the I-formation the next; they can do a lot of things to hurt you," Frazier said. "They have speed at wide receiver and a quarterback that can get the ball to him."
Frazier has also put an emphasis on his defense forcing turnovers and it helped in last week's win. The Patriots forced two fumbles, the second of which led to the game's first points.
"We've started placing more emphasis on creating turnovers and it paid off last Friday against Rockdale," Frazier said. "We always expect our defense to come out and play with a lot of intensity and that should be no different this Friday ... Winder is very tough. They have competed very well for three and a half quarters in their first two games. They have had the luck we had against Habersham."
On the other hand, the Heritage's offense has had its difficulties (10 points per game), but that could all change on Friday. Winder-Barrow, which allowed 37 points per game last year, coach Ben Corley's first season, has given up 35 and 39 points to Madison County and Cedar Shoals, respectively, so far in 2009. The rushing attack, which produced both touchdowns against Rockdale, has been the most effective piece.
"Offensively, we've just not quite settled in yet," said Frazier. "We've had some success in rushing the football (but), defensively (Winder-Barrow is) similar to what we see in practice day to day. They are very aggressive and sound in what they do."
Kurt Aschermann Jr. can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
SideBar: If you go
· Who: Heritage Patriots (1-2) at Winder-Barrow Bulldoggs (0-2)
· Where: W. Clair Harris Stadium
· When: 7:30 p.m.,
· Last week: Heritage defeated Rockdale, 14-10; Winder-Barrow lost to Cedar Shoals 39-13
Series: Heritage leads 2-1
· Last year: Heritage won 51-13