“You really have only two years of varsity (experience),” Allatoona coach Gary Varner said. “It’s still a pretty young (program). I think, is the year that makes us seem younger. The people that started the school are all gone. This is a new part of our team.
“They’re feeling like the guys that are a little left behind going into a new region and that the other people did everything, like the Miles Joneses. It’s not an established program yet, so we’re trying to do our best.”
As a result, the Buccaneers game with Rome tonight takes on an entirely larger overture. While Allatoona proved that it could contend in Class AAA with players such as running back Miles Jones and defensive lineman Bryce Brindle, the Buccaneers feel like they have to prove once again that they belong at the top of the pecking order with different names at the top of the depth chart.
“I think it is kind of important for that,” Varner said. “It’s one of those things where maybe not the outcome is important, but we need to show that we can play with these guys, one of the best teams in the region. It’s the measuring stick for the region, so we’ll find out where we’ll stand.”
With each regular-season game counting toward Region 5AAAAA play, there is no game more important than the next one. However, Varner did say that this game took on an increased impact due to Rome’s tradition and its projection as a team that would likely contend not only for a top-four playoff position, but also a chance for the region championship.
“They look more important because they are 2-0,” he said. “They will be farther up there. They will probably be one of the top four when it comes down to it. You have to beat the teams at the top to get to the playoffs, so this will be an important game for us.”
When Allatoona takes on Rome, the Bucs will see a Wing-T offense that picks apart any defense that misses an assignment. Varner said he is concerned with the discipline of his front seven. Although Allatoona’s defensive front has played well early on, despite having no returning starters from last season on the defensive line, the Buccaneers will be tested more by the Wolves this week.
“Their offense runs the Wing-T well,” Varner said. “If you’re out of position at all, then they’re going to get you. You have to be in the right place and do your job. You have to play assignment football or you will have a problem.”
Along with having a tough run game, Varner said that Rome’s defense plays fast. Additionally, the Wolves use a variety of blitz packages, and do so often.
Regardless, Varner said that he is expecting a close game that will depend on which team can execute better on the ground, though the Bucs will have no problem going to the air with quarterback Jeremy Uzee if the game dictates it.
“If we can run, we’ll run,” Varner said. “Rome runs the ball primarily in the Wing-T. They are primarily a run team, and they play aggressive defense. They really haven’t let up many points in two games, so, we’re not planning on scoring a ton of points. It’s going to be an aggressive, physical game. It’s by far the most physical game that we have seen up front.”