South stands in way of Parkview's first region title since '04

Photo: Craig Cappy Parkview's Keanu Mole (1) gains yards during the game against Berkmar last week.

Photo: Craig Cappy Parkview's Keanu Mole (1) gains yards during the game against Berkmar last week.

In the early 2000s, it was common for Parkview to wrap up the regular season with a region championship.

The Panthers won five region crowns over a six-year span, but have not been in the region title race in recent years.

That can change tonight.

Parkview (7-2, 6-1 region) can win its first region title since 2004 with a victory at South Gwinnett.

"It's fun to be in this position. The ebb and flow of football in this region is so good," Parkview head coach Cecil Flowe said. "For anybody, titles and championships mean something. To be a region champion again would be a big deal."

Since Parkview's last region title, Brookwood and Grayson have held a firm grip on the crown. South is the only other school to win the Region 8 championship. The Comets did it in 2003 when they didn't play Parkview in the 13-team Region 8. South needs a win and a Grayson loss to secure the region title. A South win and a Grayson win would make the Rams region champs.

"It hasn't been done but twice in 53 years," South head coach John Small said. "It would be a great accomplishment for our kids and our program."

South's only losses this season have been to Region 7 champion Norcross and defending state champion Grayson. The Comets (7-2, 6-1) tasted a humbling 41-0 defeat to the Rams three weeks ago. They've respond with a convincing win over Archer and a comeback victory over Brookwood last week.

"That was a wake-up call for us," Small said of the Grayson game. "When you get hit on the chin like that you have to respond."

South trailed by two scores in last week's game before quarterback Jordan Ramey led a fourth-quarter comeback. The senior threw a touchdown pass and scored the game-winning TD on a four-yard run.

"He played very well. He's gotten better every week," Small said.

South's defense sealed the win with a Reggie Carter sack and Nicholas Hylton interception.

"They are as good as they've ever been," Flowe said. "I think defensively they are better than they have ever been."

Parkview put itself in position to win a region title when it defeated defending state champion Grayson in the region opener. The Panthers were cruising through the regular season until they lost to Central Gwinnett two weeks ago.

"It comes down to blocking and tackling and taking care of the football," Flowe said. "You have to play your best football."

The Panthers will be without running back Chris Carson, who injured his leg last week against Berkmar. Parkview will rely on a stable of running backs to replace Carson, led by Justis Rosser.

Carson didn't play in the loss to Central and the defense will be tested by another spread offense.

"It's going to be a great challenge," Small said. "They have a defense that's right up there with Grayson's and their front seven. It presents a huge challenge."

South has won three of the last five meetings against Parkview. The Comets' chance of hosting a playoff game next week is impressive considering the team went 3-7 a year ago.

"Our guys have done a great job staying the course. We've put ourself in the position we want to be in," Small said. "Our goals are still intact and that's what you want going into Game 10. I'm happy for our players and coaches."