For a class that includes starting quarterback Bryce Wrenn, do-it-all player Nii-Okai Reindorf, running back/defensive back Lane Fortune, injured tight end Seth Neeley and others, this game is a way to wrap up their Rebel careers in style.
"You hope that the eight or nine seniors that we have are motivated to come out and finish the season strong. We're 4-5 and we have an opportunity to be 4-6 or 5-5. The way we played Friday night, it's going to be an uphill battle for us. We didn't play very well and maybe we can come back, put one together, end up 5-5 and give the kids something to be proud of," HC coach Alan Lane said.
The last two losses for HC (4-5, 2-4 Region 4-AAA) have been highlighted by turnovers. The Rebels lost the ball seven times in a 68-19 loss against Chapel Hill last week and were haunted by turnovers in their 40-7 setback two weeks ago against Callaway. The turnovers haven't been a result of new play-calling or the players pressing, just a couple of weeks of bad luck.
"We're doing the same thing now that we did in Week 1 and Week 2 and Week 3, where we were only having one or two [turnovers]. Nii-Okai has had over 200 carries and he's had two turnovers — they just happened to be in the same ball game. I haven't had that many carries by one person and only have two fumbles. We're doing the same things we've been doing, just stressing to hold onto the ball tight and carry the ball the right way. We're just stressing them a little stronger," Lane said.
The Jaguars (4-4, 2-3) are also on the outside looking in at the playoff race, but pose significant problems for whoever they line up against on Friday nights. The play of their quarterback and style of defense are two things, in particular, the Rebels will have to be wary of at Grady.
"There are two concerns. One, they have a quarterback that is extremely slippery. He's very fast, very elusive and has a cannon for an arm. He can throw it 60, 65 yards in the air and can run around a long time without anybody touching him. He's our biggest concern," Lane said. "The other issue is they line up 11 people 100 different ways every snap. It's a different front every play, they blitz from every direction, they'll put two people in the same gap, they'll come off the edge and come off the middle. They've blitzed everybody but the free safety, and I'm not so sure they haven't done that yet. Just haven't seen it on film."
Overall, Friday night's game is a chance for a season-finale win, but also to prepare to make a run in Region 4-AAA next season.
"Everybody [in the region] was pretty much what we thought they would be. Callaway, we'd been playing them for years. It was the Chapel Hill and the B.E.S.T. [Academy] and some others that were unchartered territory for us. We know now what they have and what they have coming back," Lane said. "Hopefully, we can come out of this with a win and understand the urgency of what we're trying to do."