Only two games remain in the 2020 regular season for the 5-3 GMC Prep Bulldogs (2-1 region), and just as November football should, they carry a lot of weight.
The next test comes Friday at Warren County against the 4-2 Screaming Devils (1-1 region). Headed up by former GMC Prep head football coach and athletic director Steven Simpson, Warren went to the state quarterfinals last year and is having another successful season in ’20.
“They’re still big and physical, and they run the wing T well,” GMC head football coach Lee Coleman said in comparing this year’s Warren team to the 2019 edition. “We’ve got to read our keys because they’re going to be a tough opponent.”
Personnel-wise, the Devils lost their talented running back trio that helped make them such a tough playoff run a year ago. Coleman pointed out that the difference is noticeable, especially in games like the loss to Hancock Central.
“They’ve still got some good running backs, but that three-headed monster they had last year was just a little different. Any time you lose three guys that dang near all had 1,000 yards rushing, you’re going to take a blow.”
Warren won its first two games this year before suffering its first loss to a very strong Washington-Wilkes team. The Devils then enjoyed a couple of easy victories over Glascock and Crawford before their big home game against Hancock on Oct. 16. Many had that game tabbed as the de facto Region 7-A Public championship decider, and it was won 28-14 by the Sparta school. That was the last time Warren took the field for competition. Coleman hopes the extended layoff can play to his team’s advantage but said there are some ways Simpson’s team could have benefited as well.
“If you get banged up against Hancock you’ve got two weeks to get your guys back,” said Coleman. “Hopefully, they’ll be a little sluggish to start off since they haven’t played a game. Two weeks off can be a lot.”
The GMC Prep Bulldogs, meanwhile, are riding a four-game winning streak following the homecoming shutout of non-region foe Glascock. One of the program’s major goals this season is to get back into the postseason for the first time since 2002, and GMC can do more than just get in if the team wins this week in Warrenton. A victory this week makes the Bulldogs the region runner-up, meaning they would get to host in the first round of the playoffs. A loss to Warren and win against ACE Charter in the regular season finale would place GMC in third barring any upsets. Two losses to close out the regular season would likely cause a jumbled tie for third and fourth, meaning tiebreakers would need to be employed to determine who goes on to the postseason.
The Bulldogs hope to avoid any such scenario, and winning this week would do just that.
“We need to play disciplined football, eliminate mistakes and not shoot ourselves in the foot,” Coleman said on what he needs to see from his team this week. “If we can play sound football and control what we can control, I think we’ll have a chance.”
Kickoff between GMC Prep and Warren County is set for 7:30 p.m. Friday in Warrenton.