By Chelsa Messinger
One week ago, the undefeated Smiths Station Panthers were living the dream.
But after a 41-7 loss to unranked Carver-Mongomery, the dream was over.
"It was a big wake up call," said Smiths Station Center Devan Miller. "It made a lot of us humble and it made a lot of us focus."
"Yeah it made us more hungry," said Running Back Devante Marshall. "It made us want to fight more."
"There's nothing good about losing," said Smiths Station Head Football Coach Mark Rose.
"But I think we learned we have to come ready to play."
This week, the 7-1 Panthers have a chance to clinch their first Region title since 1998, and against their biggest rival, the Central Red Devils.
"You don't have to say anything on this week," said Rose. "This is one of the biggest rivalries in the state."
"It's really big. I've been here all my life and it's always been a big game," said Marshall.
"We like each other, but when it comes to football, it's a whole different story," said Linebacker Anfernee Moffett.
"It can't be much bigger than it is, but a Region title would be huge for our program," said Rose. "It's a huge incentive."
Central comes in at just 4-4. But like Carver-Montgomery, the Red Devils have a quick, athletic backfield lead that could provide some key mismatches.
"We hadn't been used to it," said Miller on Carver-Mongomery's speed and athleticism. "But now that we've played one team with speed, we should be ready for the next one."
"It helped us to look at more speed," said Marshall. "We were used to more powerhouse teams so [playing Carver] really helped us."
But according to Coach Rose, the biggest obstacle doesn't derive from the X's and O's.
"We just have to play better. We just have to play smiths station football like we have been all year," said Rose. "We didn't play that Friday night, but I believe our guys are ready."
No. 9 Smiths Station (7-1) squares off with Central (4-4) Friday 8:00 ET at Garrett-Harrison Stadium.
WLTZ NBC 38
6140 Buena Vista Rd, Columbus, GA 31907, 706-561-3838
GA News Hotline: 706-507-6397
AL News Hotline: email@example.com