Staff Photo: Brendan Sullivan Grayson's Aares McCall runs the ball up field during the game against McEachern in the Corky Kell Classic at the Georgia Dome earlier this season.
DACULA AT GRAYSON
DACULA FALCONS (8-AAAAAA)
Coach: Jared Zito
Record: 0-3, 0-1 region
Last week: Lost to South Gwinnett 42-21
GRAYSON RAMS (8-AAAAAA)
Coach: Mickey Conn
Record: 2-1, 0-1 region
Last week: Lost to Parkview 22-7
Last meeting: Grayson won 34-14 last year
When: Friday, 7:30 p.m.
Directions to Grayson High School: From I-85, go east on Sugarloaf Parkway to Ga. Highway 20 and turn right. Proceed through Grayson and turn right on Hope Hollow Road. School is immediately on the left
2011 — Grayson 34, Dacula 14
2010 — Grayson 16, Dacula 10
2009 — Grayson 44, Dacula 0
2008 — Grayson 27, Dacula 7
It has been said that there are few things more dangerous than a wounded animal.
The Grayson Rams certainly had their pride wounded severely by last week's 22-7 loss to Parkview, which knocked them down to No. 8 in the Associated Press' state rankings and down in the multiple national polls they appeared in, in addition elevating the Panthers to No. 10 in the state poll.
So, it comes as no surprise that Dacula coach Jared Zito expects to see an angry herd of Rams when his Falcons visit Grayson Community Stadium Friday for a Region 8-AAAAAA game with a 7:30 p.m. kickoff.
Not that playing Grayson would've been easy under any circumstances.
"Regardless of whether they won or lost (last week), they're still going to be well prepared and well coached, and probably more motivated," Zito said of Grayson. "And if you take away the four turnovers (in last week's loss), they still played pretty well. Either way, they're still a good football team -- as good as when they were ranked No. 1 (in the state and the nation)."
The four turnovers Zito referred to came back to haunt the Rams (2-1, 0-1) in just about every way imaginable -- with one occurring with Robert Nkemdiche heading into the end zone for what seemed to be a certain touchdown and three more setting up Parkview in short-field situations.
Even a defense as stout as Grayson's, led by big-time college prospects like Nkemdiche, Jack Banda, Ryan Carter and Zach Barnes, will eventually wear down when giving an opponent so many opportunities.
But after learning that lesson the hard way last week, head coach Mickey Conn says his Rams have come out with a renewed focus and sense of purpose during practice this week, and expects to see that on the field Friday.
"It's been a great week of practice," Conn said. "We're excited and ready to get back on the field. The attitude is good. Nobody's happy about losing. ... We wish it hadn't happened, but Parkview did a great job, and now we've got to bounce back."
Dacula (0-3, 0-1) has been in bounce-back mode all season thus far, including last week's 42-21 loss to South Gwinnett.
The biggest problem for the Falcons is that they've put together good stretches in each of their games this year, only to be undone by a bad stretch that puts them in a hole they can't crawl out of.
Zito knows that can't continue to happen if his team is to get into the win column, especially against a team as talented as Grayson.
"Right now, we're battling things with a lot of inexperienced players playing," Zito said. "The details are the difference for us right now. (An) 0-3 (record) is never good, but we've played three quality opponents. And (the record) is never as bad or as good as it looks. We've just got to be more consistent."
If they can, the Falcons are not without weapons, such as Marcus Cox (525 total yards, 4 total TDs) and Brandon Goodson (370 yards passing, 3 TDs) on offense and Zentavious Cobb (16 tackles) and B.J. Clay (14 tackles, fum. rec.) on defense.
And Conn says his Rams come into Friday's game with a healthy respect for those playmakers.
"They do a good job offensively and move the ball. The last couple of games, they've put some points on the board," Conn said. "Defensively, they play hard and move around a lot, and their scheme puts them in the right position to make plays. We just have to play hard and play focused."