QUITMAN -- Both teams are 2-1. Both want to run the ball most of the time. Both have the same philosophy on defense.
When Brooks County and Bacon County meet in their Region 2-AA opener tonight at Veterans' Stadium, it will be time to find out which rebuilding project will stand firm.
"It's really going to come down to who executes better," said Brooks County head coach Ryan Branch.
The Trojans won last year's contest in Alma, part of a three-game winning streak at the end of the regular season that allowed Brooks County to salvage the fourth playoff spot out of the region. But in Branch's second year, the atmosphere around the program has improved. After losing their first seven games under Branch, the Trojans are 5-2 dating back to last year, with losses to an eventual state champion (Americus) and a defending champion (Madison County, Fla.).
"We struggled a little bit last year with some things," said Branch. "It was my first year (as head coach) and the change was hard. But the kids have bought into what we're trying to do. They've bought into my style of coaching. We're still nowhere near where we need to be, but we're getting better progressively."
Like Brooks County, the Red Raiders switched to the wing-T offense prior to this season. But while the Trojans run more counter and misdirection plays out of the three-back set, Branch looks for Bacon County to use a straight-ahead running style, thanks in large part to their "big and physical" offensive line.
Both squads come in after open dates. Brooks County edged Dooly County 21-18 in its last outing. The Red Raiders disposed of Atkinson County 28-17. And after two weeks of practicing, often in wet, muddy conditions, Branch senses his team is ready to go.
"We enjoy it," he said when asked about the foul conditions. "We haven't had a day without it yet."
The area's other two region teams, Cook and Berrien, are off tonight. Cook hosts Brooks next week and Berrien is at Pierce County.
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