By Corey Clark
Shannon Jarvis calls it a "natural rivalry."
After all, Mill Creek and Dacula are located just a few miles away and Mill Creek was created, in part, by kids who used to live in the Dacula district. So it does seem quite natural.
But Jarvis then adds: "To be a rivalry, we have to do our part here. Mill Creek has to do its part to create rivalries."
Because, let's face it, a one-sided rivalry is only interesting if you're a Boston Red Sox fan. So Jarvis knows for this rivalry to take off - for his program to really take off - the Hawks have to start beating teams like Dacula.
According to Falcons' head coach Kevin Maloof, the Mill Creek team is light-years ahead of where it was a season ago, when Dacula trounced the Hawks 34-0.
"There's been a tremendous amount of improvement," Maloof said. "They went through a full schedule with Region (7-AAAAA) opponents and you could tell they got better and better every week.
"They are 100 percent better than they were a year ago as far as understanding what it takes to compete week in and week out."
And Jarvis certainly understands what his team is up against tonight.
"This is meant as a compliment," Jarvis said, "but this is just another Dacula football team. You know what you're going to get. They're physical, they play hard on defense and they are well-coached. It's not like you're going to be able to trick Dacula to beat them."
While both coaches had high praise for the other's team, they are both far from happy about their own season-opening performances. Mill Creek stood toe-to-toe with Northview for much of the game, but just couldn't make enough plays down the stretch in the 21-7 loss.
And Dacula was able to slow down Central's passing attack, but couldn't wrap up running back Diante Drake when it mattered in a 31-14 loss.
So both teams are looking for their first win of the season tonight. Against their "natural" rival.
"These kids went to school with each other in grade school," Maloof said. "Their youth association is a spin-off of our youth league ... so it's a little different than a regular game."
SideBar: MILL CREEK AT DACULA
Mill Creek Hawks (7-AAAAA)
Coach: Shannon Jarvis
Last week: Lost to Northview 21-7
Dacula Falcons (8-AAAA)
Coach: Kevin Maloof
Last week: Lost to Central Gwinnett 31-14
When: Today, 7:30 p.m.
Last meeting: Dacula won 34-0 last year
Directions to Dacula High School: From Highway 316, go north on Highway 8 approximately one mile and school is on the left.
2006: Dacula 34, Mill Creek 0