Sports Editor Will Hammock
Forever linked in good and in bad, Mountain View and Archer enjoyed some of the good last Friday.
The third-year schools' football programs, still in their infancy, made headlines for stepping up and challenging the big boys in Region 7-AAAAA and 8-AAAAA.
Mountain View did the unthinkable, in the view of most outside of the Bears' locker room, when it shocked rival Mill Creek 9-7 in a defensive battle. It briefly put head coach Tim Hardy's team atop brutal 7-AAAAA, even if it lasts only a week.
On the other side of Lawrenceville, Archer refused to quit against defending Class AAAAA state champion Brookwood. The Tigers, led by Brookwood grad Andy Dyer, closed to within 21-19 in the waning seconds and forced the host Broncos to recover an onside kick to run out the clock.
Those results had coaches and fans around the county talking as they heard the scores come in. How did Mountain View beat Mill Creek? How did Archer play Brookwood so close?
In short, the new guys are getting better quickly. They have to, just to keep up in ultra-competitive, AAAAA football in Gwinnett.
They're also doing it on a similar timeline, sharing the same ups and downs. That's why the coaches at both schools took some joy in the other's result last Friday.
"It made our loss to (Archer) look a little better (that Archer played Brookwood close)," Hardy joked. "But really, Andy's doing a great job over there. We've both got a long way to go. We have young players, young programs. One game is exactly that. Friday was a fun night for us, but we've got a long way to go to get where we want to be."
If their latest results are any indication, they're getting there fast.
Mountain View played solid defensively in the upset of the Hawks, but just as important was an impressive ball-control offense led by quarterback Chris Bartlett and the running game. By maintaining the bulk of the possession, the Bears made the upset possible.
Archer showed similar toughness against Brookwood, running the ball with effectiveness and not backing down on defense against the Broncos' physical offensive front.
Though they didn't score an upset, they turned some heads with what was nearly a stunner. Don't be surprised if Archer has an upset of its own later this season. The efforts of both programs was rewarding, but both programs know the work is only beginning if they want to be perennial playoff teams at the AAAAA level.
"Gwinnett's so difficult," Hardy said. "Because it's so competitive here, it's tough every Friday night."
Will Hammock can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. His column appears on Thursdays. For archived columns, go to www.gwinnettdailypost.com/willhammock.