When Cecil Flowe heard George Maloof passed away on Sunday, he wanted to let Kevin and Keith Maloof know he was thinking about them.
If any head football coach knows what the Maloofs were going through it is Flowe. Just two weeks ago his father Carl died after a long battle with cancer.
"I told them I know what you're going through and to hold in there," the Parkview head coach said. "It's tough losing your father. I hate to see it for them."
It's been a rough week for Dacula head coach Kevin Maloof as his team prepared for today's game against Parkview. With his Falcons fighting for a playoff spot in Region 8-AAAAA, he has had to put football to the side. He's made it to parts of practice this week while taking care of family needs and missed Thursday's practice because of the funeral.
"It hit him pretty hard. He was real close with his dad," Dacula assistant coach Derek Coggin said. "I think it's hit him hard, but I know the Maloofs and he'll fight through it."
A strong will to fight is not new the Maloofs. George Maloof fought three battles with cancer before dying on Sunday at age 79. It's a resiliency he passed on to his sons Kevin and Keith, who is the head coach at Norcross, that they have used to build successful programs.
Dacula (2-3 overall, 1-2 in Region 8-AAAAA) travels to Parkview (4-2, 3-1) today a year after a surprising win over the Panthers last season. The Falcons posted a 21-0 win, the first in school history over the Lilburn power.
"We've talked about it," Flowe said of last year's game. "They shut us out and we could never move the ball an inch."
Dacula shut down Parkview running back Brandon Jacobs last year, but this year face a different style of offense as the Panthers have moved to the spread.
"Parkview is always good," Coggin said. "We have to go into every game ready to play and not worry about other teams. I'm sure they've probably talked about last year's game, but we have to come ready to play hard every game."
Dacula is coming off a 35-21 loss to South Gwinnett. The Falcons trailed 28-21 with 5:40 left to play, but couldn't mount a comeback.
"We made a couple of mistakes there late in the game," Coggin said. "We have to cut down on our mistakes. We can't beat anybody until we stop beating ourselves."
Quarterback Rocky Capobianco sprained his shoulder at the end of the game, but was expected to be cleared to play on Thursday.
"He's got a little grit in him," Coggin said.
Falcon defenders Skyler Richardson (10 tackles last week), Elijah Mahaley (six tackles, two sacks), Robert Harvey (six tackles, one sack, one interception) and Brad Curry (seven tackles) will face another spread offense with Parkview.
The Panthers are still trying to break in sophomore quarterback Jack Esmonde after starter Kalik Barnes cracked his jaw two weeks ago.
"The quarterback they had they could spread the ball out," Coggin said. "I'm sure with the guy they have now is capable of doing the same thing or they wouldn't have him in there. He's going to be a threat to run the ball and throw. We found out against South it's tough to cover the spread. You have to have someone cover the run, the pass and the quarterback."
Esmonde made his first varsity start in last week's 24-3 win over Central Gwinnett. He was 12 of 20 for 75 yards and on touchdown.
"We progressed as the game went on," Flowe said. "We have a young quarterback and have to get his feet wet. I'd like for the offense to execute better, but it's a win. I thought (Esmonde) managed the game every well."
As Parkview relies on a new quarterback to run the offense, a heavier emphasis will be put on the defense. In five of its six games, Parkview has held teams to 10 points or less. Only No. 1 ranked Grayson managed to score more than 10 points against the Parkview defense.
Jesse Forte had seven tackles, 11/2 sacks and a fumble returned for a touchdown in last week's win, while Kenny Flowers (11 tackles, one interception) and Walter McGriff (10 tackles, fumble recovery) also had strong games.
"They've been playing really good," Flowe said. "They have been the strength of the team. We have to (rely on the defense) if we're going have a shot at making the playoffs."
SideBar: Dacula at Parkview
Dacula Falcons (8-AAAAA)
Coach: Kevin Maloof
Record: 2-3, 1-2 region
Last week: Lost to South Gwinnett 35-21
Parkview Panthers (8-AAAAA)
Coach: Cecil Flowe
Record: 4-2, 3-1 region
Last week: Beat Central Gwinnett 24-3
When: Today, 7:30 p.m.
Last meeting: Dacula won 21-0 last year
Directions to Parkview High School: From I-85, go east on Indian Trail Road until it becomes Killian Hill Road. Turn right on Arcado Road and then left on Cole Drive. School is on the left.