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Collins Hill, Dacula aim to bounce back after openers

Staff Photo: Brendan Sullivan Dacula quarterback Brandon Goodson (8) launches a pass to a receiver during the game last week against Mill Creek.

Staff Photo: Brendan Sullivan Dacula quarterback Brandon Goodson (8) launches a pass to a receiver during the game last week against Mill Creek.

The excitement of the high school football season opener quickly disappeared for Collins Hill and Dacula last week.

The Eagles dug a hole with a mistake-filled first half and never rebounded in a 27-21 loss to Central Gwinnett. Not much went right for Dacula either, as the Falcons lost 35-0 to rival Mill Creek.

That puts both teams, who have long histories of winning, in a tough spot when they meet Friday in Dacula.

"Dacula's a lot like us," Collins Hill head coach Kevin Reach said. "We've had success in the past but one team's going to start 0-2. ... I think we both expected better than what we did in our openers."

That was the topic in a text message exchange last Saturday between Reach and Dacula head coach Jared Zito.

"Neither one of us felt good about what happened (last Friday), so we said it should be a pretty good game when we play each other," Zito said.

Both coaches feel much better about Game 2, though. They liked what was accomplished in a strong week of practices, which hopefully will result in a better showing on the field this week.

For Reach, he didn't like his team's focus a week ago. The Eagles had more penalty yards than offensive yards in the first half (82-80), creating a 20-7 halftime deficit.

The last two quarters were better, but not enough to get a victory. There were bright spots --linebacker Daniel Fish had 14 tackles, two sacks (one for a safety) and two quarterback hurries and two-way lineman Christian Harris had a good game --but also plenty to improve upon.

"After having a good showing against Archer (in the preseason scrimmage), I think our kids were not fully focused (against Central)," Reach said. "We couldn't get anything going from the start. We've got to be able to overcome adversity when things don't go our way early.

"But it's been a good week of practice. They're focused and they know they didn't come ready to play last week."

Zito thought his team was solid in the kicking game, but he expects major improvements elsewhere. Much like Collins Hill, the Falcons had some early problems, including penalties and an injury to starting linebacker Austin Volkmer, that put them in adverse situations.

Also like Collins Hill, they didn't handle it well.

"We didn't play very well and Mill Creek's a good team," Zito said. "I was probably a little more disappointed that we didn't give our best effort. ... In a big way, it was a wake-up call that we have to realize every down is important. We've responded so far, but we'll see what we put on the field Friday."

Dacula and Collins Hill had a strong rivalry going for years until they split into different regions prior to the 2010 season. They played eight times from 2000-09, with Collins Hill winning six of those meetings.