For the Heard County High School football team that has made it through eight games without a loss this season they will get another test on Friday as they host Spencer at 7:30 p.m.
While the No. 7 Braves (8-0, 6-0 Region 5-AA) haven't looked back since their season opening, comeback win against rival Callaway they know anything can happen under the lights on a Friday night. With what HC coach Tim Barron has heard from other area coaches Spencer (3-5, 3-3) is one of those teams you can't look past.
"I've heard some of the comments [Bremen coach Ricky] Tolleson made and [Bowdon coach Dwight] Hochstetler made about playing Spencer and now I get to see them on film. Offensively they're so dang athletic and they play so fast they're scary because they're dangerous on every play. Coming into the game I don't feel as near as comfortable as you want to feel because they're so explosive," Barron said.
The Greenwave are enjoying their most successful season in recent history in terms of both total wins and region wins. Led by junior quarterback Tarvaraska Davis, Spencer has shown it can be a formidable offense putting up an average of 44 points in its three wins. The times Spencer has gotten into trouble is when they get down early in games.
While Barron doesn't want his team looking past the Greenwave to the season ending showdown at Bowdon, Friday night can be a learning experience going into that game. The Braves will have a chance to see a team with some of the ability of the Red Devils while trying to continue the momentum that's build through the first eight weeks of the season.
"The good thing about this, from a coaching aspect, is that Spencer has some awfully fast backs and going into it you know Bowdon is going to have those type skill kids. You just challenge the kids to get better this Friday night. Find a way to get better at what you do and keep it rolling, get that momentum for the Bowdon game," Barron said.
The one thing Barron doesn't want the game to turn into is a barnburner with neither team's defense able to stop the other's offense. A win is the focus, but this time of year it is also about continuing to get better and preparing for the second season.
"Obviously we have put up some offensive numbers, you just don't want to get into a game where it's a shootout. You know coming in week-in and week-out it's going to get tougher. When people talk about good football teams they talk about good defense. We want to go out and play good defense this Friday," Barron said.
Much of what the Braves offense has been able to do starts with sophomore running back Duranta Dunson who rushed for over 100 yards and scored three touchdowns last week, but what makes Heard County dangerous is Dunson gets plenty of help. Junior quarterback Jonathan Hunt, Tori Rogers, Qua Daniel and Ta Freeland are all weapons offensively.
There will be even more motivation other than keeping the undefeated season alive, playing for a region title and getting ready for Bowdon, Friday night will be the final home game of the regular season for the Braves. That means the seniors will be recognized before the game and Barron wants his players to honor them by playing well.
Being in the situation they're in, having a good shot at playing at home in the playoffs, there will be some of the pressure of the final home game off the seniors' shoulders.
"It can go either way. You want to use it as a motivational tool for your kids, not just the seniors, but for everybody," Barron said. "I think with us in the playoff picture I think it can only be a good thing. A lot of times on a senior night, if they know it's the last time they'll every play on that field the emotions can work against you … where we're at in the playoff race our kids won't look at it that way."