In a game that could likely dictate who gets a home playoff game at the end of the season, South Cobb (6-1, 4-1) hosts Marietta (5-2, 4-1) in a clash at Clay Stadium tonight to determine the second best team in the region with two games remaining on the schedule.
However, with North Cobb (3-2), Hillgrove (3-2) and Harrison (3-2), also in the running for playoff spots, the margin for error for either the Eagles or the Blue Devils is slim.
“Seems like since the third game of the season, we’ve been telling the kids that this is the biggest game of the year,” South Cobb coach Ed Koester said. “This one, as things line up, is extremely important for us, because we still have Hillgrove and Pebblebrook to play, and (Marietta) has North Cobb and Harrison to play. So anything can happen in our last two games.”
Marietta coach Scott Burton had a similar take on tonight’s game.
“We talk to our kids about the understanding that one week launches into the next,” he said. “But you can’t go to set two until set one is done, so, our entire focus is on this week, and we’ll deal with the outcome of this week after it’s over.
“This game is big enough this week without having to worry about beyond that. Everybody that is fighting for their playoff lives and playoff seeds is in the same boat, and we all play each other in the last couple of weeks. Everything will shake itself out, but you can’t be in too much of a hurry for that process to unfold. If you are in too much of hurry then you won’t be part of that process.”
Region implications aside, tonight’s game also features two of the county’s best quarterbacks going head to head in Marietta’s Anthony Jennings and South Cobb’s Stephon Masha. Jennings, who has verbally committed to LSU, and Masha, who is committed to Liberty, have similar athletic styles and strong weapons surrounding them.
“When you look at the football player that Stephon is, you marvel at the things that he can do, how composed he is and his leadership capabilities just jump off the screen,” Burton said. “We’re proud to have a quarterback of our own that people believe is a good player because he is a good player. Certainly, Stephon should not take a back seat to anybody, and his play backs that up. He’s dangerous for 48 minutes, and that’s a really scary thing for us because he’s a guy that even when you think you have him down, you don’t.
“He’s the straw that stirs the drink over there, but he’s not the only weapon they have, and we’re well aware of that.”
Koester is prepared to see the best from Jennings as well.
“They’re both just good quality kids,” he said. “I have a lot of respect for coach Burton. The things he’s told me about Jennings I could echo about Stephon. I really think they’re similar. I think they’re both extremely talented young men that both have a bright future.
“Jennings is a terrific playmaker when he ad libs or is forced to ad-lib or whatever. I think he does a wonderful job with that. I have similar thoughts of Stephon in those deals, but I think both kids are extremely important to their schools and their offenses and their team as a whole.”
If there is an advantage between the two schools, it could be in favor of South Cobb, which is hosting the contest. The Eagles also have a knack for pulling out wins at the end if the game. So, the Blue Devils will have to try and get out to an early lead and maintain it throughout to avoid one of the South Cobb’s dramatic comebacks.
“Our focus has to be on South Cobb,” Burton said, “and they have plenty of reasons to keep our attention because they’re explosive and they’re dangerous and they play every game to the end. They way they’ve played at the end of games is a testament to the culture that they’ve established over there. Our focus can not deviate from them, because of the challenge they present.”