As each week passes, it's starting to feel like 2011 could be a special season for the Heritage football team.
After last Friday's convincing victory over Loganville, the Patriots are 3-0 for the first time since 2001. Couple the 35-14 win over the Red Devils with a come-from-behind triumph over Clarke Central in week 2 and the Conyers school has already defeated two Region 8-AAAA playoff teams from a year ago.
"This schedule is so tough, it's playoff team after team," said Heritage coach Chad Frazier. "Our kids did a really good job of coming to practice each day and focused on Loganville. We didn't want to put away the game (versus) Clarke, but build on it in areas we need to improve."
It doesn't get any easier for Frazier's crew as the Patriots try to move to 4-0 for the first time since the 1998 team began 5-0 under current athletic director Chuck Landy against crosstown rival Rockdale. Thursday night's game at Reid Stadium, the 32nd in a series dating back to 1978 that Heritage leads 19-12, will have special meaning as the teams will be featured as WSB-TV's game of the week. They're big rivals on a big stage with one undefeated record on the line.
"We're looking forward to playing on television and showcasing our football program," Frazier said. "I don't foresee us having any trouble getting up for this game."
Rockdale is hoping the television exposure and seeing a county rival on the other side of the field will help turn around its season. The young Bulldogs, who are replacing a lot of talent including two-time all-state selection and Clemson defensive tackle Grady Jarrett, fell to 1-2 with last weekend's loss to Cedar Shoals. Despite cutting the deficit to 20-14 in the third quarter on a touchdown connection between Zach Powell and Deon Holder, the Bulldogs wouldn't dent the scoreboard again in a 28-14 loss. Though Rockdale has scored just 34 points in three games, Frazier's defense, which has been excellent in its first three games, particularly in the second half, will be ready for anything from its county neighbor.
"Our defense is as tough as any I've seen," said Frazier. "Our coaches do a great job each week of preparing for some top-level offenses and the kids study their scouting reports and watch film all week long. (And) it's always a great match up versus Rockdale regardless of records."