Mill Creek's Jacorey Lewis runs the ball during the Hawks' game against Collins Hill last week.
Mill Creek at Alpharetta
Mill Creek Hawks (7-AAAAAA)
Coach: Shannon Jarvis
Last week: Beat Collins Hill 17-14
Alpharetta Raiders (6-AAAAAA)
Coach: Jason Dukes
Last week: Beat Johns Creek 35-32
When: Today, 7:30 p.m.
Last meeting: Mill Creek won 42-7 last year
Directions to Alpharetta High School: Take Ga. 400 north to Old Milton Parkway and turn right. Turn left at the third traffic light onto North Point Parkway. The school's side entrance is located on the right on North Point Parkway. The main entrance is located on Webb Bridge Road, just east of the North Point Parkway/Webb Bridge Road intersection.
A major focus this week for the Mill Creek football coaching staff was forgetting about last year.
The Hawks routed Alpharetta, their opponent in tonight's Class AAAAAA state playoff opener, during the 2011 regular season, 42-7. They also beat Alpharetta 31-12 in 2010.
"It doesn't matter what happened the last two years with Alpharetta," Mill Creek head coach Shannon Jarvis said. "That was a totally different ball game and a totally different team. We're a different team. They're a different team. They had a lot of turnovers early in that game last year that we were able to capitalize on. We played well that night and we're going to have to do that again (tonight)."
Alpharetta (7-3) and its offense is enough to get the Hawks' attention.
Multi-dimensional quarterback Joshua Dobbs, an Arizona State commitment, has thrown for 3,354 yards and 25 touchdowns. He has a trio of 6-foot-3, senior wide receivers in Vanderbilt commitment Carlos Burse (49 catches, 854 yards, eight TDs), Troy commitment Blake Tomlinson (26-443-2) and Wesleyan transfer Rodney Morris (20-263-4). But his favorite target is 5-11 junior Daniel Clements (56-1,209-7).
Still, it's Dobbs that makes the offense go.
"(Dobbs) is a highly recruited kid," Jarvis said. "He's a tremendous athlete. We have to contain him on defense because he extends plays, scrambles and finds an open receiver."
That's a major test for the Mill Creek defense, led up front by South Carolina-bound defensive lineman Kelsey Griffin. The Mill Creek secondary also will be challenged by a Raiders offense that averages 34 points.
On defense, Alpharetta isn't nearly as daunting despite having a Georgia recruit at defensive end in 6-4, 235-pound Naim Mustafaa. That unit allows 25.2 points per game, including 55 the last two weeks in shootouts with Johns Creek (35-32) and Centennial (41-23). It also got steamrolled 63-42 by West Forsyth in the Region 6-AAAAAA opener.
Mill Creek (7-3) has the offense to exploit that, if it can get on track after last week. The Hawks average 37.1 points, but that scoring slowed to a halt against Collins Hill last week in a 17-14 win.
They didn't run the ball well against the Eagles and struggled in the passing game, too, at least until a late 59-yard pass from Daniel David to Michael Cheeks set up Jacorey Lewis' short TD run that won the game. Lewis broke off a 49-yard TD run in the third quarter, but was held in check otherwise as DeVozea Felton (eight rushes, 100 yards) was the only consistent offense last week.
"We've got to be consistent on offense, more consistent than we were last week," Jarvis said. "You've got to give credit to Collins Hill. Their defensive front and their defense played extremely well. We played better on offense in the second half --we didn't punt --but we only had three possessions. You have to credit Collins Hill for that, they sustained drives."
Jarvis and his team are hopeful of a better performance against Alpharetta, which is Mill Creek's first playoff game since 2010. It made a run to the quarterfinals that season.
"We're not thinking about how far we can go," Jarvis said. "The talk around the fieldhouse this week is if we don't play better than we did last week, we're going to be one and done."