Although only two weeks of Region 8-AAAAA football games have been played, the result of tonight's Berkmar-Shiloh matchup could determine plenty in the region standings.
If host Shiloh loses, its 0-3 region record will make a trip to the state playoffs a long shot. If Berkmar loses, it also could face a tough road to state with tough games left with Parkview and Grayson.
"It's very important," second-year Shiloh head coach Nick Davis said. "(Berkmar) dropped one, so they're 1-1 in the region and we're 0-2. Our backs are definitely against the wall."
Although its record is 1-4, Shiloh easily could be sitting in a better position. It lost its first two region games to perennial powers Brookwood and Parkview by close margins, and a few plays or calls here or there in both games cost them better chances at an upset.
The Generals led Brookwood 3-0 for most of the first half and a penalty prevented them from leading 10-0. Instead, the Broncos scored in the waning moments of the second quarter for a 7-3 lead that eventually led to a 21-10 win.
Shiloh was even closer last week with a 7-3 edge over Parkview into the fourth quarter before the Panthers rallied for a 10-7 win.
The two close calls were tough to take, and Davis hopes his improving squad finishes a win off tonight.
"What I told our kids after the (Parkview) game, is I don't believe in moral victories, but it's a testament to how hard our kids have worked (that the Brookwood and Parkview games were so close)," the Shiloh coach said. "We're still a team trying to beat programs and that takes a little time. We're trying to build a program, too."
Tonight's opponent is a Berkmar team that had everything going right up until last week's 28-13 loss to Brookwood. The Patriots, 4-1 and 1-1 in the region, suffered their first setback because the Broncos' ball-control offense kept the ball much of the night.
Berkmar had trouble getting a defensive stop, although their offense moved the ball well against Brookwood in limited opportunities.
"There's no rest for the weary," Berkmar head coach Wendell Early said. "This game's a lot like life. There's going to be some disappointments. Last week, we felt like we were one defensive stop and one completed drive from a tied football game.
"That's one of those games you have to choke it down and move on."
Berkmar's offense is known for its quick-strike passing attack with quarterback T.J. Smith and a talented group of wideouts led by Isaiah Jupiter and J.J. Harbin. The Patriots' got pushed around some on defense by a big Brookwood offensive line, and the challenge is similar tonight against a big, physical Shiloh front.
The Generals' line has made quarterback Ira Johnson and fullback Chaz Johnson even more effective in the option attack.
Shiloh's defense also has held most every opponent in check, with linebacker Sekou Kaba, cornerback Marcus Archie and defensive end Cameron Johnson leading the charge.
Those groups will square off tonight in a game with the utmost importance for these two teams. Then again, every game in 8-AAAAA is crucial.
"In this region, if you blink you'll be out of it," Early said. "You can't take a week off. There's no time to rest."
SideBar: BERKMAR AT SHILOH
Berkmar Patriots (8-AAAAA)
Coach: Wendell Early
Record: 4-1, 1-1 region
Last week: Lost to Brookwood 28-13
Shiloh Generals (8-AAAAA)
Coach: Nick Davis
Record: 1-4, 0-2 region
Last week: Lost to Parkview 10-7
When: Today, 7:30 p.m.
Last meeting: Berkmar won 42-6 last year
Directions to Shiloh High School: From Ga. Highway 78, go south on Bethany Church Road and school is on the right.
2006: Berkmar 42, Shiloh 6
2005: Berkmar 15, Shiloh 7
2004: Berkmar 21, Shiloh 7
2001: Shiloh 23, Berkmar 0
2000: Shiloh 35, Berkmar 31
1999: Shiloh 13, Berkmar 10
1998: Shiloh 20, Berkmar 17
1995: Shiloh 34, Berkmar 0
1994: Berkmar 28, Shiloh 24
1993: Shiloh 16, Berkmar 6
1992: Shiloh 19, Berkmar 3
1991: Shiloh 14, Berkmar 10
1990: Shiloh 42, Berkmar 14