The time for warm-ups is over now because the games from here on out are the ones that matter the most.
After finishing off the non-region and region crossover portion of their schedule, the Sonoraville Phoenix jump into Region 6-AAA South subregion play this Friday when they host Bremen at 7:30 p.m. at the Furnace.
With just four games of subregion play to establish the standings and seeding going into the Region 6-AAA Play-in the final week of the regular season, each team in 6-AAA South, including the Phoenix (3-2), have little room for error over the next few weeks. Pate said his team is still just focusing on one at a time and trying to improve every day and every week going forward.
“It will be big to get the first one,” said Pate of looking for the first subregion victory. “We are excited about the opportunity that is in front of us. We have to keep working in practice to continue to improve each day.”
Sonoraville enters the week coming off a tough 31-28 loss to Ringgold last Friday. The Phoenix scored to go ahead early in the fourth quarter on one of two touchdown passes from quarterback Patrick Moore to Trenton Daniel on the night, but Ringgold answered with a touchdown with just under five minutes to play. Sonoraville went three-and-out on the next drive and never got the ball back as Ringgold ran out the clock thanks to picking up some crucial first downs.
Moore finished with 109 yards and two touchdowns through the air and 167 yards on 14 carries with two touchdowns on the ground. Pate said it is always tough to lose no matter if it is a close game or not, but he was proud of the way his team kept fighting in a back-and-forth contest.
“Losing is never fun,” said Pate. “We thought our guys battled all night long. We just were not able to make enough plays in key moments in the football game. I thought it started out fast again this week, scoring 14 in the first quarter, but we must continue that same momentum throughout the game.”
The schedule gets no easier this week as Sonoraville welcomes undefeated and top-10 state-ranked Bremen (5-0). The Blue Devils have had just one of their wins decided by less than 21 points, and they gave Sonoraville one of their toughest tests last season down there as the Phoenix held on for a 28-21 victory on the road.
Pate said he expects Bremen to be a very strong opponent and well-coached team that his team must prepare incredibly well for to have a chance for success.
“Bremen will be a tough test for us, but a test we are ready to take,” said Pate. “Our kids will be prepared and excited to play in front of our home crowd at The Furnace. Bremen will be very well-coached, and they do a good job of trying to use formations on offense to get leverage and angles. Defensively, they will base out of a three-man front. They have only given up 40 points thus far this year, but we look forward to the challenge.”
Last year’s meeting was the first ever between the two programs. Each knows the importance of this game as the winner has the leg up as the best team to challenge Calhoun for the top spot in the subregion.
Pate said the keys on Friday will not be very complicated…his team must play a complete game to compete for a win.
“We need to be able to execute better on both sides of the football,” said Pate. “We must put four quarters together to be able to defeat a very talented Bremen team.”