Norcross' Shon Akins looks back while running the ball during a game earlier this season.
Chattahoochee at Norcross
Chattahoochee Cougars (6-AAAAAA)
Coach: Terry Crowder
Last week: Beat Centennial 33-20
Norcross Blue Devils (7-AAAAAA)
Coach: Keith Maloof
Last week: Beat Meadowcreek 56-6
When: Today, 7:30 p.m.
Last meeting: Norcross won 20-17 in 2009
Directions to Norcross High School: From I-85, go west on Beaver Ruin Road to Buford Highway and turn right. At the next light, turn left on Langford Drive. Cross Peachtree Industrial Boulevard and turn left on Spalding Drive. School is on the left.
With the playoffs coming, it's time to be perfect. And Norcross knows a little something about that.
The Blue Devils just finished off an undefeated regular season, rolling to a 10-0 record and a Region 7-AAAAAA title. It's the third time since 2006 the Blue Devils have won at least 10 games and the second time in that span they finished the regular season unbeaten.
Earning the No. 1 seed can't be a bad thing and winning every game is always the goal. But it's a fine line to walk for head coach Keith Maloof between confidence and arrogance, between expectations and present focus.
"You don't want them to get too pressured," Maloof said. "All we want to do is go out there and do what we've been doing."
"This group has done a really good job of moving on and getting ready for the next opponent," he said.
Next up is Chattahoochee.
The Cougars are playing their first season after leaving Class AAAA and are two years removed from what Norcross is chasing this year, an undefeated state championship season.
Norcross spent the early part of this past week learning about Chattahoochee, a team it hasn't played since 2009 and the Cougars don't present too much of a new threat after the schedule the Blue Devils faced.
They are a spread attack led by quarterback Travis Marshall, a 6-foot-4, 197-pound senior. Marshall relies on receivers Collin Lisa and Avery Ward as his primary targets, but spreads it around to three different receivers and a pair of running backs in C.J. Leggett and Chase Nelson.
"They are very productive," Maloof said. "They have done a real good job spreading the ball around."
The depth of threats are not unlike Norcross, which first turns the ball over to its two standout running backs Alvin Kamara and Myles Autry and then attacks the corners with receivers Clinton Lynch and Trey Smith.
But the Norcross defense will equal the toughest the Cougars have faced. The Blue Devils have held teams under 10 points in four of the past five weeks and posted a pair of shutouts, including one to Parkview in the season's second week.
The Cougars' defense surrenders plenty of points, allowing more than 20 in six of their last seven games and they play a straightforward defense.
"We just have to do what we've been doing all year long. We have to get Alvin and Myles in space and get them to the next level and see what they can do with them," Maloof said. "Hopefully, Trey and Lynch will do the things they've been doing all year."
After a perfect regular season, Maloof stresses his team can still be better, a scary notion for opponents and a comfort for Norcross.
"It's still about us. We still haven't played our best football yet," Maloof said. "I still feel there is still a lot of improving to do with this football team down the road and now is the time we have to get it out of them."