That won’t be the case on Friday Night when the Gladiators make a short bus ride north to face cross-town rival Chattahoochee (3-1, 1-0 in 6AAAAAA)
“This is a big game, there is no doubt about that,” said Johns Creek head coach Mike Cloy. “Our kids still have a lot of ties with their kids and I know my players and my parents feel a little different about this game than all the others.
“After last year’s loss, and the way it ended, I think this is the next step in what we need to do as a program.”
A year ago Johns Creek came agonizingly close to topping the Cougars, leading 16-13 in overtime before a Chase Nelson touchdown gave Chattahoochee a 19-16 victory.
This season Johns Creek (4-0, 1-0) has looked like the class of north Fulton through four weeks, mixing in a big-play offense with a stingy defense that has surprised many across the state, the region and even their coach.
“[Defense] has been a pleasant surprise, especially with how our [defensive line] has done up front. We felt good about our linebacker and defensive back corps coming into the year, but our four on the line have done a great job,” said Cloy before point out Sam Arrington, Denny Victor, Devon Howard and Cody Hardage as front-line players.
“We’ll need those guys to play good against Chattahoochee this Friday, because they have two really good running backs and seem to be getting better and better each week.”
Chattahoochee enters the game riding a three game win-streak — making quick work of Forrest Park (55-0), Douglas County (24-0) and North Forsyth (47-20). The Cougars only loss was in their season opener to Kell (19-8) in the Georgia Dome.
“We feel like we have made several improvements since that Kell game,” said Chattahoochee coach Terry Crowder. “We’re starting to find out who we are offensively and our defense has just been great with 11 kids playing as hard as any group I have ever had.”
Crowder said the test this week, though, will be stiffer than any his team has seen this year — with an experienced Johns Creek offense coming to town that has been clicking on all cylinders.
“The quarterback (Skye Overton) and tailback (Chase Solomon) are explosive players that make big play after big play,” said the Chattahoochee coach, “Their wide receiver corps is better that last year too and they don’t make many mistakes.
“We know they won’t make it easy on us.”