File Photo Archer running back Ernest Alexander (8) runs for a touchdown during the first quarter during a game against Mountain View earlier this season.
History is one win away.
Sure there are other ways for Archer to eke into the playoffs, but this is a home game. This is senior night. This is a chance to be the first of an unknown number. Tonight is a chance to make the history others will see in pictures, tucked in trophy cases. The first. The ones who led the way.
Andy Dyer will admit it. He knows on what precipice his program stands. But he didn't get this team to this point with hyperbole and he's not changing his tact.
"They are excited," the head coach said. "It's all new to them. They are excited about the opportunity to move on and play another week."
Blowouts and heartbreakers cover the road to this moment. Just look at this game a year ago. South Gwinnett, marching into the playoffs, dismantled a Tiger team searching for an identity. The final of 60-9 says it all.
A year later, things look different.
The Comets and their potent offense spent the season on the brink of wins but often fell short. Dyer knows it. South coach John Small, Dyer's old teammate at West Georgia, does too.
South isn't chasing history, it's looking for a strong end to build from. To build back to the playoffs.
"We want to finish this season with a win," Small said. "We are trying to finish out on a win for these seniors. We get a chance to knock somebody out of the playoffs. We are excited about another opportunity to play a game."
South's faced injuries and bad breaks. It's played sophomores in unfamiliar spots. Guys like Chris Perez at linebacker and any number of different running backs and receivers.
"We haven't been able to get over the hump this year," Small said. "Our kids have battled hard, they've faced some adversity this year."
Archer had climbed some of its humps and it crossed a big one with last week's dominating win over playoff hopeful Parkview.
"The kids felt really good about how they played and I told them to enjoy it for a Friday and a Saturday and we have to get our focus on the next opponent," Dyer said. "We haven't accomplished our goals yet. Until we accomplish our goals we can't sit there and be happy about anything. You have to move on."
On a rainy night, the Tigers relied on their offensive linemen Romauld Kugbila, Kieran Williams, Hunter McClesky, Marcus Lightfoot, John Case, Gavin Culbreth, DeSean Harris and Antonio Riles. It turned to the nameless men to lead the way.
"It's not easy to do that every Friday," Dyer said. "That's our challenge is to try to control the line of scrimmage.
"We just roll those guys in and out. They've done a super job."
That will also keep South's attack watching. A good strategy against a spread team like the Comets.
"Our kids aren't looking at their record," Dyer said. "They know how good they are and how talented South is. It's my job to keep them focused on the task."
That task is beating another program for the first time. A historical footnote in the big picture.
If Archer loses, it still sneaks into the postseason if Dacula beats Parkview. They'll take it and keep playing, but what fun is that on senior night at home?
There are 15 seniors on Archer's team. Those smiles sure would be brighter if they made their own history.
"They've got a chance to really leave their thumbprint on Archer football," Dyer said.