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Playoff atmosphere abounds as Archer visits South

Staff Photo: John Bohn South Gwinnett quarterback Jordan Ramey (2) scrambles out of the pocket to avoid Grayson defender Jack Banda (82) during last week's game.

Staff Photo: John Bohn South Gwinnett quarterback Jordan Ramey (2) scrambles out of the pocket to avoid Grayson defender Jack Banda (82) during last week's game.

FOOTBALL

Archer Tigers (8-AAAAAA)

Coach: Andy Dyer

Record: 6-2 (4-2)

Last week: Beat Berkmar 42-0

South Gwinnett Comets (8-AAAAAA)

Coach: John Small

Record: 5-2 (4-1)

Last week: Lost 41-0 to Grayson

When: Today, 7:30 p.m.

Last meeting: South Gwinnett won 24-21 last year

Directions to South Gwinnett High School: From Ga. Highway 78, go south on Skyland Drive. School is on the left.

There's too much at stake to remember last year.

South Gwinnett enters Friday night's matchup looking to solidify at least a spot in the playoffs and the Tigers need a win to keep hopes of a second-straight postseason berth alive. But the game's importance makes last year's result stick out.

It was Week 10 and South was out of playoff contention. Archer, a rising new program, was on the precipice of its first postseason in the program's history. But the Comets came out and, in the waning seconds, kicked their way to a win. Archer advanced, history made and South went home, thrilled by its final-game win.

"We suffered through a tough season last year," South head coach John Small said. "Anytime you win your last ballgame you go into the postseason with a good taste in your mouth. It was a good catalyst for us and catapulted us into this season."

Archer's playoff run was its own catapult into this season and now the Tigers find themselves fighting for the final spot in Region 8-AAAAAA. It's a playoff atmosphere earlier than planned.

"That is what we are fighting for at this point," Tigers head coach Andy Dyer said. "Those couple we dropped early really hurt us.

"Every time you gain experience (in playoff atmospheres) that obviously helps our program and our kids gain experience. Anytime it's good. You learn from history, right? It's good to have that to fall back on."

The two teams enter Friday coming off the most opposite of results.

The Tigers rolled over Berkmar a week ago, putting up 42 points and South let a 7-0 halftime deficit to Grayson swell into a lopsided defeat.

"You have to go back to work," Small said. "We played a great opponent last week and we are going to play another one this week. You can't let one loss turn into two losses. We as adults have the hardest time bouncing back. The kids are resilient."

Dyer agrees, about his team. The Tigers, despite the early-season losses have won enough to make this late-season game meaningful. They just have to worry about stopping South Gwinnett's potent attack led by quarterback Jordan Ramey.

"Their quarterback does scramble well," Dyer said, noting the big-plays ability of South's running backs and receivers. "We have to do a good job of being disciplined and just play sound defense."

For South, it begins with stopping Sean Fowler and the Archer running game. Its two losses, Norcross and Grayson, both featured strong running attacks and second-half struggles with giving up big plays.

"You can learn a lot from (last week's) loss," Small said. "You can't give a good football team field position, we did that. It kind of got away from us in the second half. We had missed opportunities to score."

They get another shot this week. And so does Archer. Both with plenty on the line.

"It's fun to be playing this time of year and in games meaning what they mean," Small said. "It's going to be a playoff atmosphere."