Berkmar, Shiloh eye 3-0 starts

It’s hard to overstate the importance of this game.

It’s not for state ranking, a region championship or playoff seeding. It’s not televised. It’s not a national showcase.

It’s simply two teams looking for something good to happen this Friday.

Berkmar hasn’t had a winning season since 2007. Shiloh is looking for consistency the program’s never experienced. It’s the fourth year for the Patriots’ Jonathan Sanks and the second for Troy Hobbs at Shiloh and both are ready for the learning curve to crest into winning football.

“We’ve learned how to play football, I hope,” Hobbs said of his Generals after lopsided wins over Meadowcreek and Redan. “We’ve gotten a lot stronger, a lot more physical on defense. The kids are running to the ball.”

Sanks parrots Hobbs talking about his Patriots, a group long in experience, but short on success.

“They have a decent understanding of what is expected and what we are trying to do,” Sanks said. “You can’t really blame a kid that hasn’t played much football and you are telling him to set the edge or to fill that gap. Now, they have an understanding, they understand what we expect to do and now it’s a little better.”

Getting a third straight win and one in Region 8-AAAAAA would be even better, for both teams. Shiloh won this matchup a year ago by 12.

“You want to go in and compete in the region,” Hobbs said. “This is our first region game and we want to show people we can compete in this region. I see them as one of the toughest teams in the region. We are taking it just like everybody else. We want people to understand that we can play regardless of who it is or where it may be.”

Hobbs’ Generals are coming off two record-setting games to start the season, setting a school rushing record (Charles Shavers 261 yards, five TDs) against Meadowcreek and a passing record (Will Larimore 291 yards, six TDs) against Redan.

“You know the kids are locked in,” Hobbs said. “You know the kids aren’t walking in with their heads down. You’ve got everyone’s full attention as to what’s needed. Winning cures all and that is a good thing for us right now.”

For Berkmar, the path to 2-0 left Sanks plenty to preach to his players about improving. He praises the effort, but bemoans missed assignments, bad reads and dropped passes.

“If everybody can do their part and we can play mistake free football we’ll be a decent ball club,” Sanks said. “I am not trying to make anybody play outside of who they are.”

Both teams will get a test on just how good each is on Friday.

“That’s the beauty of playing in this great region,” Sanks said. “I can’t wait. I can’t wait to see what happens. I want to see a good hard-nosed football game because I believe we can play one.”

Shiloh Generals (8-AAAAAA)

Coach: Troy Hobbs

Record: 2-0

Last week: Beat Redan 56-0

Berkmar Patriots (8-AAAAAA)

Coach: Jonathan Sanks

Record: 2-0

Last week: Beat Meadowcreek 35-7

Last meeting: Shiloh won 19-7 last year

Directions to Berkmar High School: From I-85, go east on Pleasant Hill Road; school is on the right just before Ga. Highway 29

Series history:

2012: Shiloh 19, Berkmar 7

2011: Shiloh 55, Berkmar 28

2010: Shiloh 48, Berkmar 42

2009: Shiloh 51, Berkmar 21

2008: Berkmar 20, Shiloh 17

2007: Berkmar 26, Shiloh 21

2006: Berkmar 42, Shiloh 6

2005: Berkmar 15, Shiloh 7

2004: Berkmar 21, Shiloh 7