Photo: Karl L. Moore Parkview quarterback Rob Youngblood (7) slides past the rush of South Gwinnett's Weston Simmons (90) during the game earlier this season.
Parkview at West Forsyth
Parkview Panthers (8-AAAAAA)
Coach: Cecil Flowe
Last week: Beat Walton 20-17 in overtime
West Forsyth Wolverines (6-AAAAAA)
Coach: Frank Hepler
Last week: Beat Collins Hill 66-41
When: Friday, 7:30 p.m.
Last meeting: First meeting
Directions to West Forsyth High School: Highway 400 north to exit 13, which is Peachtree Parkway or Highway 141. Turn left onto Peachtree Parkway which becomes Bethelview Rd. Follow four miles and turn left onto Drew Rd. School will be on the left.
If any team knows how fickle a football season plays, it's Parkview.
The Panthers were locks for the Region 8-AAAAAA title after taking down Grayson and Brookwood early in the season. But a shocking loss to Central Gwinnett and another defeat by South Gwinnett not only dashed dreams of a region championship, the losses also sent Parkview on the road for the playoffs. The first stop was Walton and for nearly four quarters it appeared the only stop.
But the Panthers' offense arrived just in time, forcing overtime and riding a huge defensive stop to an overtime win. A new crest in a wave of a season.
"It was (a special win)," head coach Cecil Flow said. "The kids just kept fighting hard and playing hard."
It was Parkview's first playoff win since 2005, a shocking streak for a program of such storied stature.
"Playoff wins are special," Flowe said. "It was a big deal for the kids."
Which brings them to Friday and another road battle at West Forsyth. The one-loss Wolverines rode their quarterback and high-scoring offense to a first-round win over Collins Hill. The second half alone saw West Forsyth and quarterback and Middle Tennessee State University commit A.J. Erdely score 35 points, leaving even Collins Hill's spread offense in the dust.
"He has a cast of people around him that really help him," Flowe said of Erdely's threats. "He gets the ball to the right people."
Parkview, especially sans standout running back Chris Carson, is no offensive prodigy, but it scores just enough and relies on its defense to keep the opponent down. See last week, where it held Walton to a touchdown in regulation. In its first 10 games, Walton scored less than 20 points in four quarters twice.
But West Forsyth sits with an average score above 40.
"They are very deceptive," Flowe said of the biggest challenge of West Forsyth. "They are very good, very disciplined."
But, really, this is just another challenge, something the Panthers have not shied away from yet.
"We want that (fearless) attitude in them," Flowe said. "We have to go out there and win every game we play and that's what we're trying to do."
And every one of those games will be on the road. A challenge the Panthers gave themselves with the late-season stumble. Also, something this team doesn't seem to mind.
"We're going to be on the road. We have to go out there and put our stuff on the line," Flowe said. "But I think the kids have developed some confidence. The games get harder, people play harder. They have to match every team. They understand when they go out there you have to play hard. It's not a gimme."