The Heard County High School football team doesn’t have room to dwell on one top-10 Class AA matchup from last week because another one will be staring it right in the face just 48 hours from now.
That opponent is none other than red-hot No. 8 Rockmart out of Region 7-AA, which the Braves will travel up Hwy. 27 to play this Friday at 7:30 p.m.
“When you play two teams in the top-10 for back-to-back weeks, you don’t have time to sulk. You have to go right back to work,” Heard County head coach Tim Barron said. “The Hapeville game is over. We’ve gone back to look at the things we have to correct, and we’ll move forward to another good football team.”
Heard County (1-1) is refocusing itself after a 33-3 loss at home to defending state champion Hapeville Charter last Friday night.
Down 7-3 in the third quarter, the Braves were demoralized after a grinding, nine-minute drive on offense yielded zero points. The No. 1 Hornet offense would almost immediately counter with the knockout blow, dropping four late touchdowns to doom the Maroon and White to a 30-point setback.
While his offense did manage to move the ball better than during its season-opening win at LaGrange, the veteran HC head coach once again cited small, correctable mistakes that are plaguing his ballclub.
“Believe it or not, there was a lot of improvement offensively last week, but it’s still little things like assignments that we’re continually messing up on and we’ve got to get those right,” Barron said. “They’re very small things that are getting us beat right now, but they’re all correctable and all coachable and we have to harp on them every day from here on out.”
Looking for another chance to make an impact for the Braves in the special teams department is kicker Jakab Moon, who booted a 30-yard field goal in the first quarter of last week’s contest before missing a 24-yarder in the third quarter.
After sharing kicking duties with Chris Carroll last season, the senior described how he’s improved this season.
“This year I feel like I’ve been kicking farther and harder,” Moon said. “I’ve been getting it straighter and getting more height so if they were to throw their hands up, they won’t get it.”
Handling kickoffs for HC this year is James Newell, whose aim it is to get as many in the end zone for touchbacks as possible.
Stepping up as the Braves’ punter is junior Colson Jiles, who’s enjoying his new role on the roster.
“It’s fun. I like it a lot,” Jiles said. “I’ve just been working on distance, hangtime and getting it off quick.”
His head coach talked about how the punter could make a huge difference for the team, as far as field position is concerned for the rest of the season.
“Last year, (Alijah) Huzzie had to punt for us more out of necessity and we were struggling in that phase of the game,” Barron said. “Having Colson come on and having a good offseason punting the ball, that could be a big improvement from a year ago.”
Come Friday, the Braves will be going nose-to-nose with a Rockmart offense that runs a different version of the traditional Wing-T attack.
Burying Temple with a 45-3 scrimmage victory in the preseason, the Yellow Jackets (2-0) opened the 2018 campaign with a last-minute victory over rival Cedartown before taking down Central with a 51-7 decision two weeks ago.
Looking ahead after the Hapeville loss, Barron described the Jackets as a team that could “hang 48 on you.” After watching them on film, he re-affirmed that assessment.
“You have to be dialed in when playing them because they throw so many formations at you and there’s always the threat of a big play,” Barron said. “They’ve got two great running backs that are special, backups that are really good and good receivers. They can big-play you at any time, so you have to have attention to detail and you have to be dialed in to your assignment on every single snap because they’re capable of putting up a lot of points.”