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Backyard battle: Berkmar offense, Parkview defense square off

File Photo<br> Parkview's Kyle Fleetwood (9) breaks a tackle by South Gwinnett's Darius Jones-Craven earlier this season.

File Photo
Parkview's Kyle Fleetwood (9) breaks a tackle by South Gwinnett's Darius Jones-Craven earlier this season.

The rivalry between Lilburn neighbors Berkmar and Parkview is always a spirited affair.

And this year’s edition of the annual “Battle for the Green Flag” should be no different when the Patriots (3-2, 2-1) play host to the Panthers (1-3, 1-1) tonight at 7:30.

PARKVIEW AT BERKMAR

Parkview Panthers (8-AAAAA)

Coach: Cecil Flowe

Record: 1-3, 1-1 region

Last week: Lost to South Gwinnett 37-16

Berkmar Patriots (8-AAAAA)

Coach: Jonathan Sanks

Record: 3-2, 2-1 region

Last week: Beat Archer 35-19

When: Today, 7:30 p.m.

Last meeting: Parkview won 35-0 last year

Directions to Berkmar High School: From I-85, go east on Pleasant Hill Road; school is on the right just before Ga. Highway 29.

Series history:

• 2009 — Parkview 35, Berkmar 0

• 2008 — Parkview 28, Berkmar 7

• 2007 — Parkview 21, Berkmar 7

• 2006 — Parkview 27, Berkmar 7

• 2005 — Parkview 35, Berkmar 2

• 2004 — Parkview 42, Berkmar 0

• 2003: Parkview 28, Berkmar 0

• 2002 — Parkview 44, Berkmar 0

• 2001 — Parkview 45, Berkmar 0

• 2000 — Parkview 26, Berkmar 7

• 1999 — Berkmar 13, Parkview 10

• 1998 — Berkmar 23, Parkview 20*

• 1997 — Parkview 26, Berkmar 2

• 1996 — Parkview 39, Berkmar 3

• 1995 — Parkview 50, Berkmar 0

• 1994 — Parkview 39, Berkmar 17

• 1993 — Parkview 48, Berkmar 7

• 1992 — Parkview 23, Berkmar 0

• 1991 — Berkmar 14, Parkview 10

• 1990 — Parkview 14, Berkmar 0

*Berkmar forfeited its 1998 win to Parkview

The rivalry has been rather one-sided in recent years, with Parkview taking the last 10 since Berkmar’s last victory in 1999.

In fact, the Patriots have not even managed to break into double figures offensively in that time, including five shutouts.

So restoring the competitiveness of the series is something first-year Berkmar coach Jonathan Sanks knows his team will have to reestablish if it is to recapture the Green Flag.

“They (Parkview) have a psychological edge because they are Parkview and we’re Berkmar. They’ve had things headed in the right direction for a while, and we’re headed in the right direction,” Sanks said. “So I think if we can overcome the psychological warfare and actually get in the war and fight, hopefully things may come out differently.”

The Patriots have shown plenty of improvement from last year’s 1-9 campaign, especially on offense.

Despite missing starting quarterback Xaviir Briggs due to injury the past two weeks, Berkmar continues to roll up the offensive yardage, including 1,103 through the air behind current signal caller Deion Perry, plus leading receiver Justyn Shackleford.

Sanks said Briggs has been cleared to play today, though whether he or Perry starts under center will be a game-time decision.

Either way, the Patriots have certainly gotten the attention and respect of Parkview coach Cecil Flowe.

“They’ll be a test for us, for sure,” Flowe said. “They throw and catch the ball pretty well. And they’ve got some guys on the perimeter they can get the ball to. We’ll see if we can eliminate some mistakes on defense and move the ball on offense.”

While Parkview comes in with a losing record, that record is somewhat deceiving considering all three losses are to state-ranked opponents (No. 6 Stephenson, No. 8 Norcross and No. 9 South Gwinnett).

And Sanks said the Panthers show many of same elements as strong Parkview teams of the past, mainly a solid defense led by safety Kyle Fleetwood and linebackers Kenny Flowers and Raphael Kirby.

“They’ve got an impressive safety and a lot of good athletes on defense,” Sanks said. “Hopefully, we can establish the run so we can throw the ball a little.”

As important as the matchup between the Parkview defense and the Berkmar offense may be, Flowe also sees a big key to the game with the Panther offense, which rolled up some yardage in last week’s loss to South, but had a hard time turning it into points.

“You think you’re pounding away (at the opposing defense), but for the drives not to produce any points hurts,” Flowe said. “We’ve got to come away with some points on those drives.”

In addition to neighborhood pride, tonight’s contest takes on an extra dimension of being a pivotal game in Region 8-AAAAA.

The winner will still be in control of its own destiny, while the loser will have an uphill climb trying to catch other contenders like South Gwinnett, Grayson, Dacula and Brookwood.