Staff Photo: John Bohn Grayson's Wayne Gallman runs the ball during the Rams' game against Edgewater of Orlando earlier this season.
With the season reaching its midpoint, both Grayson and Shiloh find themselves in familiar positions as the No. 3 state-ranked Rams visit Shiloh Community Stadium for a Region 8-AAAAA game Friday.
It is a position Grayson (4-0, 2-0), having made the state playoffs five straight seasons -- including the state quarterfinals in the last four -- has come to expect, and one first-year Shiloh coach Brian Montgomery can use as a model as he tries to turn the Generals (1-4, 1-2) into a contender.
"They're very fundamentally sound. You can tell that when you watch them on film," Montgomery said of Grayson. "You know they're going to play well. It's going to be a challenge, but it's no different from the challenge we face each week."
The challenge for Shiloh this week seems a simple one in theory -- try to slow down Grayson's powerful running game while getting its own rolling.
It won't be easy as the Rams feature a multi-pronged ground game that includes the quartet of Terrius Watson, Devin Gillespie, Wayne Gallman and Jordan Germany, who have combined to average 190.6 yards per game and score 11 total touchdowns on the season.
Add to that a passing game that has been very efficient behind quarterback Nick Schuessler and big-play receivers Korey Jones and Callen Hightower and the Rams appear to have the complete package.
"We've got a lot of weapons going right now," Grayson coach Mickey Conn said. "And we're having to spread it around now because we want everybody to stay healthy. We've had two byes in the last four weeks, so our guys are rested up, for sure. It's nice to be back playing again.
"Shiloh's got a good scheme, and they've got some talented kids. It will be an interesting matchup because one thing I've noticed is, they're not going to beat themselves. They've done a good job controlling the clock and controlling the ball."
That hasn't always translated into points, however, as the Generals have managed just 55 points in five games this sason, including two shutouts.
Montgomery knows it will take a better output to win Friday, and that means a better push from linemen like Tyler Claytor and Rolanzo Bruce to control the line of scrimmage and open up holes for speedy skill players like Deshon Taylor and Donald Clark.
"(Grayson's) three-man front is one of the best in the state," Montgomery said. "So, we have to come off the ball and shoot the gaps. We just have to block and put a hat on hat."
That will be a serious challenge against an aggressive Grayson front seven that includes monster junior defensive end Robert Nkemdiche, plus fellow defensive ends Jack Banda and recent Georgia State commitment Sebastian Rice.
But Conn is concerned about being too aggressive against a Shiloh's I-formation running game, and wants his team to play with as much composure as intensity.
"Yes, we want to play sound and hard-nosed defense," Conn said. "But we've got to be patient. We don't want to blitz ourselves into a bad place."