Last Friday, Wheeler (3-1 overall, 0-1 Region 5AAAAAA) opened region play with a 31-27 setback to Etowah which wasn’t decided until the final minute.
“Sometimes, those are the toughest losses to take when you lose in the last minutes of the game, so obviously we’re very disappointed to lose a hard-fought ballgame,” Wheeler coach Mike Collins said.
“It is never an easy thing to accept a loss that major. But at the same time, thank goodness, the sun came up last weekend. We look forward to trying to get back to the good side of things this week.”
The Wildcats will also be attempting to end a six-game losing streak to Milton (3-1, 1-0), even though the teams have not met since 2009.
“We just got to make sure we play hard and correctly this week,” Collins said. “Just playing hard may not be enough. But we got to play hard in the right direction. That is the main teaching tool that we have used.”
After surrendering 300 rushing yards in the loss to Etowah, Wheeler will also have to do a better job of defending the run.
“They’re going to try to come out and establish the run,” Collins said of Milton. “Hand it off to those great backs and the really good quarterback they got will keep it. It’s going to be a difficult task to slow them down, but it’s something we look forward to.”
Last Friday during the Eagles’ 45-31 victory over Roswell, Peyton Barber, who has verbally committed to Mississippi, ran for 226 of his team’s 403 rushing yards. Barber also had two touchdowns along with Treyvon Paulk.
Kahlem Looney had an impressive outing as well for Wheeler, racking up 150 yards and two touchdowns.
“Our focus is fundamental football,” Collins said. “Everybody do your job, know your assignment and make sure we are fundamentally sound on both sides of the football. If we’re going to be in this ball game, we got to play fast on both sides.”
Wheeler is the only team in the region with a winning record yet winless in region play.
“We felt the Etowah game was just as big, so we’re just going into this game trying to get back in the win column,” Collins said. “Hopefully to make a run at the playoffs, but we realize it’s going to be difficult.”