DALTON, Ga. - All things considered, this week of firsts for the Christian Heritage Lions could be a lot more stressful.
In their second year of competition in the GHSA, the Lions will make their postseason debut tonight, but the opportunity to face a familiar foe close to home will ease some of what coach Preston Poag calls "anxiousness."
Christian Heritage (8-2) gets a second shot at Region 6 rival Darlington (8-2) tonight in Rome in the first round of the Class A private school playoffs. The Tigers rallied in the final minutes of the teams' earlier meeting to win, 18-14, in Dalton.
"We led the whole game and they scored in the final minute," Poag recalled. "They're a good football team and they will not beat themselves. The best thing about the matchup is we realize the GHSA could have sent us to anywhere in the state, but to get to play close to home is great.
"I'm a little superstitious and this will help us keep the same routine. Will the guys be nervous? I think we'll be anxious, sure, but we've got a veteran team and I feel we'll be ready."
Dale seeks support
If there was one aspect of last week's historic victory for Ringgold that was disappointing, it was in the stands, where a less-than-full home side witnessed the program's first postseason win. Star quarterback Slade Dale hopes the community shows up in full force tonight as the 9-2 Tigers try to reach the quarterfinals. They host Cedar Grove at Don Patterson Stadium.
"Last week was great and all, but we were all kind of disappointed that there weren't more people in the stands," Dale said. "I know the weather wasn't very good, and it might not be great this week, but we had hoped to see more people supporting us. It would awesome to have the stands full this Friday."
Allen honored for 1,000
In honor of scoring the 1,000th point in his high school career, senior point guard Hall Allen was presented a basketball autographed by his teammates and coaches between the girls' and boys' games Nov. 12 when Boyd-Buchanan hosted Van Buren County. Allen reached the milestone last Feb. 28 when the Buccaneers defeated Grace Academy 58-44 in the Region 3-A championship game.
"He's been our starting point guard ever since his first game as a freshman," Bucs coach Cole Rose said. "That's a big accomplishment, too, being a leader on the floor and putting us in our offense, especially at 14 years old. And he's gotten better. Even though he started as a freshman, he's added something to his game every year to make himself better."
Allen has been unable to play thus far this year for the Bucs (3-0) because he's recuperating from August toe surgery. Rose said Allen has begun practicing again and could be available next week, or at least after Thanksgiving.