Game: Wheeler (1-5, 1-3) at Pope (4-1, 3-0), 7:30 p.m.
Last year: Pope 28, Wheeler 21
All-time series: Wheeler leads 16-9
Prediction: Pope 27, Wheeler 10
Wheeler prepares for its biggest challenge yet of the season as it faces Pope on Friday at the Pope Multi-Sport Complex.
Coming off their first victory of the season, a 10-0 win over Osborne, the Wildcats (1-5, 1-3) aim to put the pressure on early against the Greyhounds in hopes to win their second straight game.
“I feel like this week we just need to keep focus on fundamentals and on us,” Wheeler coach Bryan Love said. “We have a very good opponent in Pope. We just need to make sure we are grasping those fundamentals like blocking, tackling, and being able to throw down the field vertically.”
This week, the Wildcats defense will have their hands full as they face one the top five leading rushers in Cobb County, Phil Sims, who averages seven yards a carry with seven touchdowns on the season.
Love said he knows that Pope has a strong running game, but he believes his defense will keep their momentum going after coming off a strong performance last week with four sacks and two forced turnovers.
Wheeler will need to rely heavily on their freshman quarterback Marcus Romain who leads the team in total offense with 243 total rushing yards and 361 passing yards.
“The quarterback (Marcus Romain) is obviously the catalyst for their offense,” Pope coach Tab Griffin said. “He throws the ball pretty good, but he can also get himself out of bad situations with his legs. We’ve got to make sure we contain him and get loose because he is really agile and fast.”
Meanwhile, Pope (4-1, 3-0), is seeking to run its winning streak to four games..
Coming off a double bye, the Greyhounds have used this time to rest up and get healthy, mentally preparing as their aspiration for postseason play becomes more feasible.
“There is some region talk going around in practice and the rest of the school,” Griffin said. “It’s great to talk-the-talk but you gotta be able to walk-the-walk. We just have to continue to stay focused in practice and be ready when Fridays come around.”
The Greyhounds’ high-powered offense will be led by running backs, Sims who has a total of 452 rushing yards, and Joel Brock with 201. Along with veteran quarterback Patrick Lowe, who has completed 65% of his passes for 903 yards.
“They got a good quarterback (Marcus Romain) who is dangerous, and they are very big up front,” Griffin said. “It’s a little deceiving with their record because they are a really good football team. They just had some breaks in their first couple of games, and they are going to have a lot of confidence coming out of this last game against Osborne.”