There is a number in an odd place now for Norcross.
It's been a constant for two seasons. A fixture. There wasn't a number there, rather the lack of one. A circle to fill the space left void. That ended last Friday in Suwanee with a 33-19 loss to Region 7-AAAAA foe North Gwinnett.
But that is all that ended. Not the Blue Devils' season. Not their playoff hopes. Nothing.
"There was no lingering (effects) whatsoever," said Norcross head coach Keith Maloof of this week's practices. "We are a very mature group. We just have to bounce back from disappointment."
Like his Blue Devils, Maloof had little to say about their first region loss since 2005. He didn't want to talk about it. He wanted to talk about Chattahoochee, Norcross' next opponent.
"Our kids have bounced back," he said. "We just have to go and play Chattahoochee."
The Cougars don't bring the best record to Norcross tonight, but they do bring a .500 region record after a win over South Forsyth last week and they bring an offense scoring 31 points per game.
"They score a lot of points," Maloof said. "We have to be ready for a wide open offense. We just have to go out there and get things done."
Making stops is something the Blue Devil defense has done well this season. Even after giving up 33 last week, they are only surrendering an average of 24 a game. Through four games they have 15 sacks, led by transfer defensive lineman Wesley Hollingshead. He also leads the team in tackles with 56.
"We've got to make tackles and punish people when we make tackles," Maloof said. "We have to cause turnovers. We have to create opportunities for our offense."
Despite the high sack totals and low points allowed, Norcross has only forced five turnovers on the season, slightly more than one per game.
Not that its offense has needed too many opportunities. The Blue Devils' bruising offensive line has opened the holes for Maryland commit D.J. Adams to rush for 412 yards on 85 carries and six touchdowns. The rest of the Norcross offense has one touchdown. And while Chattahoochee scores readily, it also gives up points - 37 per game.
"We are going to try to do the things we like to do," Maloof said. Vague but clear. Plenty of chances for skill players like Adams and receiver Prince Kent (16 catches, 205 yards) to continue to shine.
It's a new week in Norcross and plenty of games remain. For the Blue Devils, they only control the future. Those numbers are the ones which count now.
"We are right in the thick of (the region)," Maloof said. "We need to get better and focus on ourselves. This is a region game and it is as big as the week before."
SideBar: CHATTAHOOCHEE AT NORCROSS
Chattahoochee Cougars (7-AAAAA)
Coach: Terry Crowder
Record: 1-3, 1-1 region
Last week: Beat South Forsyth 47-28
Norcross Blue Devils (7-AAAAA)
Coach: Keith Maloof
Record: 2-2, 1-1 region
Last week: Lost to North Gwinnett 33-19
When: Today, 7:30 p.m.
Last meeting: Norcross won 21-10 in 2005
Directions to Norcross High School: From I-85, go west on Beaver Ruin Road to Buford Highway and turn right. At the next light, turn left on Langford Drive. Cross Peachtree Industrial Boulevard and turn left on Spalding Drive. School is on the left.
2005: Norcross 21, Chattahoochee 10
2004: Chattahoochee 13, Norcross 10
1997: Chattahoochee 31, Norcross 20
1996: Norcross 14, Chattahoochee 0