No. 1 Norcross wary of


When the Region 7-AAAAA football schedule was made for 2006, Norcross got the unfortunate draw when it came to travel.

The Blue Devils' slate featured road games against all three of the non-Gwinnett schools in the region - North Forsyth, South Forsyth and Forsyth Central. The last of those trips is today, a matchup with Forsyth Central that could be a trap game before Norcross closes the season with games vs. playoff contenders Collins Hill and North Gwinnett.

But head coach Keith Maloof likes his team's focus going into tonight's game.

The Blue Devils were pushed to the brink last week by Mill Creek before scoring 14 points in the last 1 minute, 23 seconds for a 28-14 victory.

"You've got to win ball games like that," Maloof said. "You're going to have to win some where you don't play your best. The way we played against Mill Creek, and it's a credit to Mill Creek that they gave us such a tough game, our kids know they've got to be ready to play every week."

Although it struggled to run the football, Mill Creek managed to drive the ball on Norcross' defense better than most teams because of the passing game. The Hawks had 204 passing yards and two touchdowns to become the first team all season to reach double-figure scoring on the Blue Devils.

Norcross had allowed just 25 points in its first six games before Mill Creek put up 14 points in a sloppy game that featured four turnovers for each side.

Despite the points and passing yards, there were still some bright spots on Norcross' defense. Brooks Cunningham made some huge plays with five tackles for losses, three sacks and a caused fumble that was returned for his team's final TD by J.R. Jones. Darius Hanks intercepted two passes, giving him five on the season, and Leonard Foster also had an interception to go with seven tackles.

Quarterback Bryce Dykes accounted for four TDs, including a long, game-winning run with 1:23 left, to offset a night when he threw three interceptions. Norcross rushed for just 82 yards and threw for 146 against Mill Creek.

Maloof said he has been happy with the kicking game, praising punter Sam Snider and kicker Chris Tanner.

The coach hopes the offense, defense and special teams start clicking for the upcoming 7-AAAAA showdowns with 5-2 Collins Hill and 8-0 North Gwinnett. But first things first. The Blue Devils still have to go to Forsyth Central tonight.

"They're quick, they're scrappy and they play hard," Maloof said. "Every game in this region worries you. You've got to go out and play hard every night."