Dalton (5-2, 3-0) at
Heritage (1-6, 1-2)
If Dalton wins tonight and Southeast loses, the Catamounts will clinch a spot in the Region 7-4A championship game on Nov. 8.
Earning a spot in that title matchup — and winning it — was the goal when the season started for Dalton, which is on a five-game winning streak.
“Our team has taken a very business-like approach to what is at hand,” Cats coach Matt Land said. “I think they realized in weeks one, two and three that a goal is a goal. In weeks six, seven, eight and nine, it’s tangible. It’s something you can put your hands on.
“I think as we get closer to the eventuality of that goal, our players are filtering their focus. There are still some days we don’t do it right and sometimes we have to pull everyone back together.”
On the other end of the win-loss spectrum, the Generals have lost 16 of their past 17 games dating back to the start of the 2012 season, which they finished 0-10.
“I guess we always hope for more improvement,” Heritage coach Tim James said, “but we’ve gotten a little bit better.”
The Generals haven’t limited an opponent to fewer than 26 points all season but they have shown progress in scoring. Through five games, Heritage averaged only 8.4 points. In the past two games, including a 48-26 win two weeks ago versus LaFayette, the Generals are averaging 30.5 points. Heritage’s offense is led by sophomore quarterback Dylan Bice and freshman running back Tanner Nance.
“What I see is a quarterback with a big arm,” Land said of Bice. “I see big receivers. I see a big offensive line. I see a team that has all the pieces and on any given Friday night can put them together.”
Heritage’s postseason hopes are still alive, too, but James is more focused on the immediate task.
“We just hope to play a respectful game,” he said. “This is a Dalton team that’s about as good a team as we’ve seen in this region.”