“It’s unreal,” Brock says. “It’s the high school version of Georgia-Florida, FSU-Miami, and it has that magnitude in Single-A football. Wherever we play, the place is packed. Both towns shut down. You see it in the movies about small town football- everyone goes to the game. When I was interviewed, they said that I could lose every game, but just don’t lose that one. That set the tone. These are kids that played as far back as Rec league to Pop Warner to middle school. Some were on the same teams. Now, they’re at different schools. It’s real big and it’s good football in southwest Georgia.”
Anyone, frankly, that looked at the Class A bracket at the beginning of the playoffs this year saw that these two teams could hook back up in this round. And they have. It’s traditionally difficult to knock off a team twice in a season, but Brock has a plan.
“You don’t let the moment get too big for you,” he says. “I tell my guys to stay off social media if you can, and there’s no getting away from hype and the noise. You have to be locked in and laser-focused. We had to limit our mistakes then in the regular season, and the same is true now. We had too many turnovers and were lucky to win with the three we gave up. They’re too good of a team to make those mistakes against any week.
“Their quarterback is dangerous, and they have tremendous athletes on the perimeter. You have to limit the big play, and contain (quarterback Kendrick) Patterson and (athlete Darrell) Starling. You have to make sure you know where they are on routes, and do your job or they will expose you.”
On game day, his plan is to dive in and get ready for the Pelham rematch: he may have his players get in a little early, get them off their feet, hydrate, maybe watch a little film, feed them and do “our things” as he says. It’s not a game they’ll take lightly, since by Brock’s admission, Pelham scores fast and in bunches.
“It’s been surprisingly quiet, so far,” he admits about any kind of talk between the two towns -- Camilla and Pelham. “It’s a lot like the first time we played at the end of the regular season. Our guys are locked in and focused because of what’s at stake. I think the talk may pick up as the week goes on.”
But the one thing I wanted to ask before I left our conversation is: There’s usually a group of students that personify the success you have in any given year. It may not be the stars you get recruited or the shiniest of objects you see game in and game out. Who was that for Brock and his Eagles?
It was an easy answer.
“My offensive linemen,” he says. “They get overlooked as athletes. The skill guys get attention, but the linemen work hard, they never give excuses, and don’t ask for the limelight. They come to work every single day. They fit that mold and grind every single day. In this town, you see folks grind for a living every single day and those guys are the personification of all that we see.”
Off that, here’s your homework if you’re at the game Friday night.
See what Coach Brock is talking about as two heavyweights go at it in Class A.
Play it safe, everyone… I’ll talk to you soon.