Photo: Karl L. Moore -- Dacula wide receiver Josh Bullock (16) tries to make the one hand catch as Shiloh's Nick Kayea (2) defends during last week's game at Shiloh. Photo: Karl L. Moore Dacula wide receiver Josh Bullock (16) tries to make the one hand catch as Shiloh's Nick Kayea (2) defends during last week's game at Shiloh.
CENTRAL at DACULA
Central Gwinnett Black Knights (8-AAAAAA)
Coach: Todd Wofford
Record: 4-4, 2-4 region
Last week: Beat Parkview 30-27 in overtime
Dacula Falcons (8-AAAAAA)
Coach: Jared Zito
Record: 1-7, 1-5 region
Last week: Beat Shiloh 31-8
Last meeting: Dacula won 49-21 last year
Directions to Dacula High School: From Highway 316, go north on Highway 8 approximately one mile and school is on the left.
When: Friday, 7:30 p.m.
Suddenly, things look bright.
It's been a rough year for Dacula, winless for its first seven games with a young team coming off a playoff year. The Falcons never rolled over, recently pushing Parkview to the brink of defeat just a few weeks ago.
The Falcons finally broke through Friday, taking down Shiloh for the first win of the season with just three games to play.
"It's always good to win," said Dacula coach Jared Zito. "Our kids played hard and they played well. They played great defense and got some turnovers and we put some points on the board when we needed them."
It's been a bit longer rough stretch at Central Gwinnett.
Entering his third season as head coach Todd Wofford's Black Knights had come close, but even in those close moments seemed to find ways to lose against its better opponents.
That changed last Friday with its overtime win over the same Panthers Dacula pushed to the fourth quarter and who beat defending state champion Grayson earlier this season.
"It's really huge," Wofford said of the win over Parkview. "You think of building a program, we have lost a lot of games, you get to that point where you find those wins.
"The kids have been better and have been working hard."
Yet as football goes, those good feelings from Friday fade quickly. Those breakthrough, momentum-making wins are as quickly forgotten with a loss this Friday night.
And Central heads to Dacula with that on the line tonight. One team will build on last week, the other will be back where it started.
"You go back to (your team) and you work on your mistakes," Wofford said. "In regulation (last week) we had chances to win without a trip to overtime. The kids can learn from that."
And it's not like Central doesn't have motivation. Its seniors, including the healthy quarterback Eman Westmoreland, have never beaten Dacula. Zito knows the dangers of a healthy, motivated Westmoreland.
"It starts with him," Zito said of the Central quarterback, who thew for more than 400 yards against Parkview. "He does a really good job of getting rid of the football quickly. You have to do a good job in coverage and bringing pressure and you have to hope that he's a little off. He's a very poised quarterback."
Dacula has some poise of its own.
With the help of good field position, the Falcons found plenty of offense against Shiloh, spurred by C.J. Mayes, who stepped in for the injured Marcus Cox, along with Kelan Fraise and Jacque Evangelister. Mayes, a two-way player, scored a touchdown on offense and defense and helped put the game away with a big kickoff return in the second half against Shiloh.
But like Central's beating Parkview, all of last week is now past. The brightness of much-needed wins fades into Friday night's kickoff.
"They aren't just going to play to win one Friday," Wofford said.