After starting the season 1-4 — with lopsided losses to Sequoyah, Creekview and Ridgeland — River Ridge (3-4, 2-0) scored consecutive wins over subregion rivals Cedartown and Cass, and the Knights are now tied for the subregion lead with Gilmer (6-1, 2-0).
Whichever team wins Friday would guarantee itself a spot in the Nov. 9 region play-in game and, with it, the opportunity for a region title.
“It goes for both teams that being undefeated in your subregion is obviously where you want to be at this time of year,” River Ridge coach Robert Braucht said.
Though the Knights have recently been able to find success, Braucht expects Gilmer to present a completely different challenge than their last few opponents.
“Really, Gilmer is a totally different type of ball club,” Braucht said when asked to compare the Bobcats to Cedartown and Cass. “They run a totally different style of defense and offense compared to what we’ve seen recently. There is really no comparison to what they have done and what other teams in the region have done.”
Gilmer operates out of a Wing-T offense, and it has scored a subregion-best 35 points per game.
“They are very good at what they do,” Braucht said. “They are not going to come out and try to trick us. They are just going to play fundamentally sound football. That is what makes them effective.”
The best way to combat Gilmer will be to eliminate mental mistakes on defense, Braucht said.
Defensively, the Bobcats will line up in a 4-4 alignment — a different defensive system than the 50 front that both Cass and Cedartown operated out of.
Despite the unfamiliarity Gilmer’s defense will present his team, Braucht said he has no plans to change up his offense, which has scored 35 points in each of its last two games.
“We’re just going to go out and run our offense,” he said.
Instead of an offense-defense battle, Braucht feels special teams could be the deciding factor Friday.
“Special teams will be key this week,” he said. “When you have two good teams playing, the game is going to come down to something like that.”
Braucht also said that, out of all the good qualities that River Ridge put on display last week against Cass, he wants to see the confidence the Knights have shown resurface more than anything else.
“I want us to play with confidence, to believe in what we’re doing,” Braucht said. “Our kids have been doing that lately.”