File Photo — Brookwood running back Jamaal Cole (32) runs for a gain as Mill Creek linebacker Patrick Dike (36) makes the stop during the game earlier this season.
ARCHER AT BROOKWOOD
Archer Tigers (8-AAAAAA)
Coach: Andy Dyer
Last week: Beat East Coweta 27-6
Brookwood Broncos (8-AAAAAA)
Coach: Mark Crews
Last week: Beat Mill Creek 31-21
When: Friday, 7:30 p.m.
Last meeting: Brookwood won 21-19 last season
Directions to Brookwood High School: From I-85, go east on Pleasant Hill Road and merge onto Ronald Reagan Parkway. Proceed to the Five Forks-Trickum Road exit.
As he returned home from his son's youth football practice this week, Archer head football coach Andy Dyer joked that he was going next door to find out what Brookwood had planned for Friday's Region 8-AAAAAA opener.
By next door, he literally meant next door. Brookwood defensive coach David Nelson lives beside Dyer.
It's one of many connections to the Snellville school for Dyer, a 1991 Brookwood grad whose final high school team played the first game ever in Brookwood Community Stadium.
"I pretty much still know just about the whole crew over there at Brookwood," said Dyer, who also lives down the street from Broncos baseball coach Rick Howard. "It always makes it interesting because it's hard to play your friends. But it's a region game, No. 1. Somebody's going to get off to a great start in the region and somebody won't."
In addition to playing at Brookwood --for many of the current coaches -- Dyer also coached six seasons at his alma mater. Between the two, he will see plenty of friendly faces on the field and in the stands.
It will be the same interesting evening for Dyer's wife Kim, also a Brookwood grad, and for many of the Bronco coaches and faculty.
"We feel like we've known (Dyer) since he was a little boy," said Brookwood head coach Mark Crews, one of Dyer's high school coaches. "He grew up with us. He was a coach with us. He's a good football coach now. We hated to see him leave when he did. I would love to have him here, but he's done a great job building that program. We pull for him except one week a year."
That week is here.
And Dyer's Archer team looks to have its best-ever shot at knocking off the perennial power Broncos. The Tigers made the playoffs for the first time last season, when they also put a scare into Brookwood in a 21-19 loss.
If it was a moral victory, the coach didn't appreciate it.
"No moral victories, whatsoever," Dyer said. "We're preparing to be the best we can and compete with the big boys in the region. Our goal is to pass them up."
Archer is off to a great start, routing Mountain View in the opener and winning on the road last week at East Coweta. Running backs Sean Fowler and Ernest Alexander both topped the 100-yard rushing mark for the second straight week, thanks to a solid effort up front.
"It was a good night for us (at East Coweta)," Dyer said. "We had to hunker down in the second half and our line of scrimmage took over the game."
That line, and the Tigers' two backs, will test a Brookwood defense that has struggled to stop the run this season. The Broncos gave up a 300-yard game to Walton star and Alabama commitment Tyren Jones in a Corky Kell Classic loss, then struggled against Mill Creek's option game last Friday.
They are smaller and more inexperienced on the defensive front than in past seasons, too.
"We're just working hard to get better (on defense)," Crews said.
Of course, Archer's defense, which features Florida commitment Antonio Riles, will have a tough chore of its own tonight.
Banged-up Jamaal Cole still rushed for three touchdowns in last week's win over Mill Creek and fellow back Josh Brown reeled off 243 yards.
"We've got to tackle those two backs," Dyer said. "They're amazing."
A region-opening win will be a huge boost to the winner in loaded 8-AAAAAA. Both teams have tough matchups in the next two weeks, each playing Parkview and Dacula.