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Falcons try to right ship against defending champs

Staff Photo: Jason Braverman Brookwood's D.J. Brown (10) tries to break away from Collins Hill defender Will Stewart (1) during the game last week.

Staff Photo: Jason Braverman Brookwood's D.J. Brown (10) tries to break away from Collins Hill defender Will Stewart (1) during the game last week.

There were high expectations when Jared Zito took over as Dacula's head football coach in the offseason.

The Falcons missed the playoffs by one game last year and returned a talented senior class.

Then they opened the season with a humbling 35-7 loss to Norcross in a game that was aired all across metro Atlanta.

It didn't get any better with a loss to rival Mill Creek the following week.

Dacula now sits at 0-2, but the hopes of having a great season aren't over. The Falcons can turn things around Friday when they host defending state champion Brookwood (1-1).

"Everybody wants to win every game we play," Zito said. "At this point forward it comes down to region wins. If you have enough at the end you get to keep playing."

Dacula was the only team to beat Brookwood, which went 14-1 and won the state title last year.

"Brookwood is the reigning state champ," Zito said. "A lot of people think they graduated this, but they are still Brookwood."

The Falcons' veer offense ran by former head coach Kevin Maloof kept the ball away from the Broncos as they chewed up the clock in last year's win.

Zito has scrapped the veer and brought in the spread, which he used to build North Forsyth into a playoff team last season. Rocky Capobianco was moved from quarterback to running back/receiver, while Brandon Bartlett has taken over at QB.

"You have to worry about the fact they're 0-2, so people think they are not very good," Brookwood head coach Mark Crews said. "We tell our kids all the time that in Gwinnett and our region these are no pushovers. You have to be ready to play every game."

The defense has been a concern for Dacula, which has allowed 35 points in both losses.

"They've got some good players on defense," Crews said. "They are big and strong and can run to the ball well."

The defense will be tested by Brookwood's running attack. Nick Tompkins, a Michigan State commitment, had 119 yards in last week's win over Collins Hill. Junior Jamaal Cole added 65 yards and two touchdowns.

"Everyone knows about their running backs," Zito said. "They are both really good players."

Brookwood struggled to finish drives in its opening loss to Lassiter. The Broncos appeared to have fixed that and the special teams in Game 2 against Collins Hill.

"I think our kids knew that and took it to heart. We played a lot better," Crews said.

Consistency has been a problem for Dacula in the first two games. But with last week's bye, Zito hopes the Falcons have found a way to stop beating themselves.

"Let's fix Dacula first," Zito said. "We've got to put it all together."