Over the last three weeks, the two teams have headed in the opposite direction, though that hasn’t been as simple as it seems. McEachern (3-2) has won its last three games, but its win over Marietta came down to converting a two-point conversion late in the game and the Indians only defeated Pebblebrook by seven.
“Last week, we improved our discipline and our assignment defense,” McEachern coach Kyle Hockman said. “We’re starting to really trust each other defensively and take care of our responsibility and not do too much. I’m pleased with that improvement. Offensively, I’m pleased with our offensive line and how they are working together.
“We’re starting to play more physical. So, we’re excited about that and about our explosive plays. I think we have enough talent in our returning positions that we can hang with people in our special teams. I think there’s a lot to look forward to, and if we can keep building on those strengths and things we do like. Then, I think we have a chance to be a good ballclub.”
Meanwhile, Campbell has lost its last three games in a row. The Spartans (2-3) were shut out last week
38-0 by Hillgrove, but lost in a nailbiter against South Cobb that required a come-from-behind effort and lost by just one score to Harrison the week before that.
“Truth be told, we’re coming off a really bad game against Hillgrove,” Campbell coach Harris Rainbow said. “We didn’t give the effort and play with the passion necessary to play on Friday night. So, our focus is on playing hard and doing the little things to get us to play for four quarters as hard as we can.
“We’re growing as a program. We’ve got kids that are really working hard. We could just as easily be 4-1. We didn’t play well against Harrison. Against South Cobb, we had so many defenders out. We had our two starting linebackers, starting corner, starting safety and backup corner out. So, we were trying to outscore them, and that never works.”
For a pair of teams that are both, for the most part, inexperienced, the difference between a winning and losing season and of high and low confidence has an impact on the future of this season and on seasons to come.
For McEachern, after key victories over Marietta and Pebblebrook, that means talk of the postseason and of how far the program can go.
“With a little luck, as well with injuries and such, I think in a lot of we’re pretty deep,” Hockman said. “In our region, every game is a challenge, so we have to keep our head down, work, get better and not get caught up in things down the road.
“I think we have talent that can go places if we can believe and be unselfish and just keep working.”
For Campbell, the losses over the last few weeks have put the Spartans in a place where they are licking their wounds ahead of another difficult matchup. However, the team still has plenty left to fight for.
“We played badly against Hillgrove,” Rainbow said. “I don’t honestly believe that’s the Campbell football team. We played badly and we’re going to move forward. We’ve got a lot of mistakes to fix. I have no worries.
“Absent of last week’s game, I feel the first four weeks, we did a good job of competing on every single play. We lost that last week. I hope what that means is that you see that we might not be the most talented or gifted team, but what I hope you see on a day-to-day basis. We’ve got a bunch of kids that, when they step foot between the lines, they play as hard as they can every single play.”