Duluth at Mill Creek preview

Mill Creek’s Ben Otiwu

Mill Creek’s Ben Otiwu

Duluth Wildcats (7-AAAAAA)

Coach: Jason Conner

Record: 1-5, 1-3 region

Last week: Had a bye

Mill Creek Hawks (7-AAAAAA)

Coach: Shannon Jarvis

Record: 4-3, 2-3 region

Last week: Lost to North Gwinnett 50-47

How Mill Creek reacts to one of the most painful losses its players will experience will be an interesting storyline in this matchup.

The Hawks were on the verge of knocking off Class AAAAAA’s No. 1 team last Friday, with a 47-28 lead late in the fourth quarter, only to watch North Gwinnett reel off 22 points in the last five minutes of an improbable, 50-47 victory.

“Obviously, we’ve got to get the team back because last week was an emotional, hard-fought game,” Mill Creek head coach Shannon Jarvis said. “It was as draining emotionally as it was physically. But the way we’ve come back and practiced this week, I could not be prouder of this team.”

Ben Otiwu (nine tackles, eight solos, two sacks), Darnel Augustin (12 tackles), Daniel David (224 rushing yards, two TDs) and Carter Governale (94 rushing yards, two TDs) were among the standouts last week for the Hawks, who now need to win out for a shot at the playoffs.

“We’ve got to win the last three weeks,” Jarvis said. “There’s no scenario that puts us in the playoffs if we lose another game.”

Duluth also lost a tough one to North two weeks ago. The Wildcats trailed just 17-13 at half and kept the score close until the fourth quarter. It was a big step for an improving program and first-year head coach Jason Conner, whose team had a bye last week to prepare for the Hawks.

“I think the bye week mostly allowed us to heal up,” Conner said. “Depth-wise, we were missing some guys on the offensive and defensive lines. That was a big part of the North Gwinnett game in the second half. It hurt us not being able to rotate guys in on the offensive and defensive lines.”

Last meeting: Mill Creek won 56-21 last year

Directions to Mill Creek High School: From I-85, take the Hamilton Mill Road exit and go east. At the immediate light, turn left on Ga. Highway 124/Braselton Highway. School is approximately three miles ahead on the left.