MOULTRIE – What is there to know about Parkview High football? Aside from “good team” and “traditional powerhouse?”
What’s important to know in 2019 is it’s the dream match-up of the GHSA 7A second round, 9-2 Colquitt County High visiting 10-1 and Region 7-7A champion Parkview at The Big Orange Jungle in Lilburn Friday.
These are two programs that put together some championship-filled decade-long runs of success, and for Parkview that was from 1997-2002 with four titles in six seasons and a 46-game winning streak under soon-to-be GACA Hall of Fame coach Cecil Flowe.
The Packers of first-year head coach Justin Rogers, looking for its third 7A finals berth in a row but also its first championship win since the 30-0 run from 2014-15, defeated North Cobb High 35-7 at home in the opening round. That came two weeks after a 28-17 loss to Lowndes that put Colquitt in the No. 2 playoff position in Region 1-7A.
The Parkview Panthers are on a nine-game winning streak since losing to … Lowndes High 38-7 at Martin Stadium back on Sept. 6. In that game the Vikings were ahead 28-7 at halftime, rushed for 319 yards (24 first downs) and held Parkview to 22 on the ground.
The winning streak began against another member of Region 1-7A, Tift County, at The Big Orange Jungle. The Panthers won 20-7 Sept. 20, and the following week they faced defending state champion Milton on the road and prevailed 16-7.
After the 31-24 win over Norcross on Oct. 4, the next six games saw Parkview give up a total of 68 points. Its lowest offensive output over that same span was the 35 against West Forsyth in the first round.
What is the biggest thing to look out for when the Panthers have the football? Is it focused on the running game, or does Parkview throw the ball all over the field?
The regular season finale, a 38-14 win over Central Gwinnett, tells you to be ready to stop the run. Tyler Curtis carried 11 times for 157 yards and three touchdowns.
But wait, in beating West Forsyth last week, quarterback Jordan Williams completed 18-of-26 passes for 228 yards and three touchdowns. Curtis was still around, carrying 13 times for 98 yards and a touchdown, and yet another Panther, Jasir Smith, netted 106 yards on six totes.
By the way, neither Curtis nor Smith are Parkview’s leading rusher for the season. That’s Cody Brown, a 1,000-yard gainer who has not played since Nov. 1. As a team, the Panthers have 2,432 yards running the ball with 28 touchdowns.
“I’m looking forward to it,” said Rogers about his first visit to Parkview’s venue.
“They are a big tradition school known for winning. They have a running back who is really, really good. They have two really good. They are balanced on offense. The quarterback’s savvy. Defensively they have two inside linebackers who are extremely good, Division I kids. They have a Division I corner and a Division I safety and a Division I D-lineman. Very talented defense.”
Rogers is going to prepare Colquitt County this week to face Brown, which he says is no different than preparing for Curtis.
“From everything we’ve heard, he’ll be back this week,” said Rogers. “Both of them are big backs, big, big body backs. They are downhill; reminds me of old-school Jerome Bettis. Bruisers. They have a big O-line, but we’ve been going against big O-lines all year. I would compare them to Camden’s O-line. They are going to cover you up and that big guy’s going to find the gap.”
In the passing game, Williams has two targets of note. CJ Daniels had the big game in the first round, eight catches for 154 yards and two touchdowns. The leading receiver for the season, though, is Jared Brown with 780 yards and 11 touchdowns.
“They are going to take what they need to take,” said Rogers. “In the Tift game, Tift did a good job with their D-line of taking the run away, and (Parkview) went to the pass. They have good receivers.”
The Colquitt County defense is coming off another game of not giving up an offensive touchdown. The only points allowed to North Cobb came on special teams via a blocked punt.
Three things about the Panther defense: First, West Forsyth scored 14 points, but all in the final 2:05 of regulation. Second, Mason Huntley was credited with three sacks in that same game. Third, Central Gwinnett features Skylar Adams, who ended up as the state’s leader in passing yards after the regular season. Parkview gave up 240 yards (21-for-30) to Adams, but intercepted him three times.
“It goes back to they have two guys in the secondary with Division I offers,” said Rogers. “They are very fast, athletic, break on balls well. (Up front) they will create little blitzes and match-up patterns to get one-on-one with your guards.
“We are going to have the win the line on defense, win first down. We have to get them off schedule. First down is going to be key, get them in long yard situations so they are not out there doing long, methodical drives keeping our people on the sideline. Offensively we have to win one-on-one battles. We have to hit those throws when we get it and establish a run game so they have to go to one-on-one battles.”
Rogers saw the Packers unable to get North Cobb off the field for a half, but the Warriors’ long, methodical drives did not result in points. He said the offense won those one-on-one’s in the second half, and North Cobb was worn down enough that Daijun Edwards was able to most of his 89 yards rushing.
Rogers said playoff games are going to be close for a half, and then it’s a matter of who can separate themselves closing it out.
The game at The Big Orange Jungle will also be the first for Colquitt on a grass field. Practice the last two days was on a Packer Park soccer field.
“We haven’t played on grass since the Columbia (Fla.) scrimmage game,” said Rogers. “We felt like we needed to get out here on a natural surface. I think it will be different (from synthetic turf) this time of year because natural fields get beat up so much. It’s a dormant growing season now. Especially after last Friday being so rainy, there’s no telling what it will be like.”