“Playing a Saturday game gives our communities the opportunity to put their best foot forward,” South Cobb coach Ed Koester said. “For a rivalry to take place, and the kids to get to enjoy the excitement of a Saturday afternoon football game is what it is all about.”
In what is becoming an annual game on the final Saturday of the regular season between the two neighboring programs, South Cobb leads the Saturday series 2-0. But as Koester will say, his Eagles are taking nothing for granted — even when the Falcons happen to be winless this season.
South Cobb (6-3, 4-3 Region 4AAAAAA) opened the season 5-0 before losing three of its next four games — all to region opponents.
Koester and the Eagles held out hope that they could sneak back into the playoffs, but North Cobb’s win over Campbell on Friday eliminated South Cobb from playoff contention.
Because they’ve had an extra day to prepare for this game, Koester said his players shifted preparations back a day after taking a little extra time to recover from last week’s 37-14 loss to Hillgrove.
“When we wake up (this) morning, we know what we’ve got to do,” said Koester, who encouraged his players to stay out of the cold weather and be in the house by 10 p.m. Friday night.
South Cobb quarterback Stephon Masha missed the Hillgrove game with a hip pointer. Koester declined to comment on Masha’s status earlier in the week, saying only that he would play the healthy players, and that they would do their best.
Against Pebblebrook, the Eagles could use every weapon they have.
The Falcons have performed better than their winless record indicates. With solid overall team speed, an explosive offense and an aggressive defense, they could be one of the more challenging teams that South Cobb has faced.
“In our region, coaches have walked out of their games with Pebblebrook saying that they are the best team that they have played that doesn’t have documented success,” Koester said. “It’s terribly dangerous playing a team that is 0-9 on the last week of the season.”
Dangerous is a good word to describe Pebblebrook on any given week.
It wasn’t long ago that the Falcons were starting to prove some of that skill in the win column. But after going 4-6 in each of the last two seasons, Pebblebrook has taken a few steps backward.
Some of the difficulties can be attributed to injuries, but each week, coach Tommy Macon continues to say that his team is ready to set the tone for next season now.
In order to set that tone, Pebblebrook needs to make the most of every opportunity. Throughout the season, the Falcons have come out strong, taking an early lead only to see it slip away — often with the aid of turnovers of missed coverage assignments that lead to big plays by their opponents.
They also need to get as many players involved as possible. Running backs Demetrius Monday (a Cincinnati commitment) and Perry Seldon join quarterback Dezmond Huntley as a trio of players capable of making plays.
After that, it will be up to the Falcons’ defense to keep the Eagles in check.