So considering that his team is still playing, Marietta coach Scott Burton has reason to feel pretty good.
That isn’t to say traveling to Lowndes and beat the runner-up from Region 1AAAAAA will be an easy task.
The Vikings have won five state championships — the last in 2007 — and are 42-18 all-time in the playoffs. Lowndes’ only loss this season came two weeks ago when it dropped a 24-7 decision to Camden County.
“Our kids understand this time of year requires a great sense of focus, greater urgency, greater sense of discipline, great execution, all those things,” said Burton, whose program is the only one from Cobb County to ever win a state championship in the Georgia High School Association in 1967. “Our focus is on us making sure that we pay attention to those things that we need to focus on.
“What they do is some what out of our control. So it just makes no sense but for us to control what we can control.”
For Marietta, one key will be controlling the time of possession. Minimizing turnovers is an obvious way to keep the clock moving in its favor, but it is also important to make the most of every possession. That will mean the Blue Devils will need a smartly played game from LSU commitment Anthony Jennings at quarterback.
Jennings comes into the game as the second-leading passer in Cobb County with 1,983 yards and 21 touchdowns, and he is nearly as dangerous on the ground, running for 608 yards and nine touchdowns. Marietta will also need a big game from emerging sophomore running back KirVonte Benson, who has 835 yards and nine touchdowns on only 87 carries.
Controlling the line of scrimmage and moving the chains on the ground will be important to keep the Lowndes offense on the sideline, because it is averaging nearly seven touchdowns per game. It appears as if the Vikings can seemingly score at will.
Offensively, Lowndes doesn’t do anything too complicated, but according to Burton, it’s something the Blue Devils haven’t seen before.
“It’s just a better of execution,” said Burton. “Our kids will be well-drilled on what to expect and then it just turns into execution (today).”
And as prolific as the offense is, the defense can be just a stingy, holding teams to fewer than 12 points per game and recording three shutouts.
One thing Marietta can’t control is where the game is being played. The Blue Devils will leave on their long bus trip to Valdosta at 10 a.m. — more than nine hours before the game kicks off.
Burton sees this as a good thing.
“I think our kids are excited to go down there and represent the city of Marietta and our school system,” said Burton. “For the most part, they are excited about the opportunity to get on the bus and have more time to focus.”
While the football team at Lowndes is sitting in class, concentrating on biology or history or calculus, the Blue Devils will be concentrating on football.
“They can think about the game and their assignments rather than sitting in class and trying to focus on that and the game at the same time,” said Burton. “This particular week, we don’t have that juggling act to do.”