Archer quarterback Gabe Tiller drops back to pass during the game against South Gwinnett last week. (Photo: Kyle Hess)
Archer head football coach Andy Dyer has one rule when it comes to celebrating wins. You have just 24 hours to enjoy it.
What about when it’s a victory to lock up the school’s first region championship?
“You have 24 hours to enjoy it, win or lose,” Dyer said. “Then it’s time to get back to work. We told them we’ll enjoy the region championship later.”
Archer has already achieved some major goals for the fifth-year program. A winning season, playoff berth and last week secured its first region title. So what does that leave left for the Tigers in the regular season to accomplish?
“Obviously, we have the opportunity to finish with a perfect record,” Dyer said. “You don’t get that too often.”
Archer (9-0, 7-0 region) will travel to Grayson, last year’s region champ, Friday as it tries to complete an undefeated regular season. The Tigers are the only undefeated team in Class AAAAAA and have a bye next week before the playoffs start.
“I think Andy is doing a great job with the program,” Grayson head coach Mickey Conn said. “He’s built it up quick.”
Archer secured the Region 8-AAAAAA championship last week when it defeated South Gwinnett. It’s the five-year-old program’s first region crown. The last Gwinnett County school to win a region title that quick was Grayson in 2002 in Class AAA.
Grayson been one of the dominant teams in the region and the state over the last six years, winning 10 or more games. After graduating 21 starters, the Rams have struggled this season. They started the year 1-4 then went on a three-game winning streak to get in the playoff hunt. Grayson (4-4, 4-2) fell to rival South Gwinnett two weeks ago and had a bye last week.
“I think inexperience and maturity has to do with inconsistency,” Conn said. “Turnovers and penalties are not characteristics of our teams and have hurt us.”
Despite the struggles, Grayson just needs to win one of its remaining two games to reach the playoffs for the eighth straight year.
“There’s a couple of different scenarios, but that’s the one we’re worried about,” Conn said.
Running back Aares McCall is the Rams’ leading rusher and is expected to play tonight after missing the second half of the South game with a leg injury.
“They are going to control the football,” Dyer said. “You have to make sure you get some stops.”
Archer has a balanced attack that has made it successful this year. Running back Randy Nails leads the team with 801 yards rushing, quarterback Gabe Tiller has thrown for 1,747 yards and 21 touchdowns. K.J. Parmer, Dylan Singleton, Kyle Davis and Connor Redmond have been the Tigers’ leading receivers.
“I think they have a really good quarterback and receiver corps,” Conn said. “They have good running backs to go with it. They are very balanced.”
The offensive success is built around the offensive line. Mitch Hornsby, Nick Williams, M.J. Couzan, Steven Bluse, Caleb Hammond and Taylor Stein have led the Tigers to scoring 35 points a game.
“Our offensive line has gotten better over the course of the season,” Dyer said. “Those guys have logged just about every snap. They have been warriors.”
Despite all of Archer’s success, Dyer still feels his team can get better.
“Just execution in everything we are doing. That’s the big thing we have to keep getting better,” Dyer said. “We’re playing our crosstown rival, but we have to worry about us.”
ARCHER at GRAYSON
Archer Tigers (8-AAAAAA)
Coach: Andy Dyer
Record: 9-0, 7-0 region
Last week: Beat South Gwinnett 48-31
Grayson Rams (8-AAAAAA)
Coach: Mickey Conn
Record: 4-4, 4-2 region
Last week: Had a bye
When: Friday, 7:30 p.m.
Last meeting: Grayson won 48-0 last year
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