The Parkview captains, including Larry Veal (15), Chris Carson (23), Bryce Lewis (3) and John Patterson (20) come out for the coin toss during the Panthers' game against Brookwood earlier this season.
PARKVIEW AT DACULA
Parkview Panthers (8-AAAAAA)
Coach: Cecil Flowe
Record: 4-1 (3-0)
Last week: Had a bye
Dacula Falcons (8-AAAAAA)
Coach: Jared Zito
Record: 0-6 (0-4)
Last week: Lost 45-17 to Brookwood
Last meeting: Dacula won 31-21 last year
Directions to Dacula High School: From Highway 316, go north on Highway 8 approximately one mile and school is on the left.
• 2011: Dacula 31, Parkview 21
• 2010: Parkview 7, Dacula 0
• 2009: Dacula 9, Parkview 6 (OT)
• 2008: Dacula 21, Parkview 0
• 2003: Parkview 31, Dacula 0*
• 2003: Parkview 21, Dacula 3
• 2001: Parkview 38, Dacula 7
• 2000: Parkview 14, Dacula 14
When Jared Zito watches tape of Parkview he enjoys himself.
"They play hard and it looks like they want it more than their opponent right now," the Dacula head coach said. "Schematics are not as important as how hard they are playing and their want to (win).
"It looks like they have some common goals in mind. It's a very unselfish football team on both sides. It's actually fun to watch."
And more than just watching successful football, Zito sees a memory. This was his team last year, a senior group rebounding from a disappointing year in a big way.
"In high school, that's a critical piece, senior players," Zito said. "We've talked about it as a staff, when you are really good and have a really good year, you usually have a really good returning, senior, savvy group."
Parkview head coach Cecil Flowe agrees, he watched his team struggle a season ago by Parkview standards and has watched the returning players unite.
"I think they came off last year and they realized that they had an opportunity to right themselves," Flowe said.
It started with the win over Grayson, the most shocking result this season in the state, and the Panthers keep building on that win. They adjusted their defensive scheme after the early-season loss to Norcross and are allowing less than two touchdowns a game in Region 8-AAAAAA play. Norcross burned the Panthers for 20 points in a shutout win.
"We got into what we were comfortable doing," Flowe said. "It just took off and they played harder."
And that's the fun Zito sees when he watches the tape. It's fun Flowe said is palpable around the program.
"I think success and winning makes people play harder," Flowe said. "It certainly excited the community again, the kids are excited, the school is excited. They are handling it well. We know we have a lot of ball to play."
Parkview was off last week and Flowe said they worked on the little improvements like technique, special teams and fundamentals.
"There are things that you see at this point in the year that still need attention," Flowe said, "so the kids don't get lax on them.
"(The off week) came at a really good time."
The same work continues in Dacula, though with a different focus for the winless Falcons.
"That's the thing we talk to our kids about, 'Are we getting better?' And right now, I think we are," Zito said. "The main difference, and this is the difference between a young player and an old player, is consistency."
Young players become savvy players with time and coaching and Zito said he understands the cycle of high school football, but it doesn't make losing any easier. The days aren't always easy, but the horror stories shared between coaches of lost seasons and players turning on each other isn't happening with the Falcons, who have first-year starters at most of their positions.
"We have really good kids," Zito said. "We've stuck together, there's not any issues at practice or in the locker room or in the hallway."