Darlington football

Darlington’s Trystin Wright makes a catch near the goal line during last week’s game against Bowdon. The Tigers hope to improve to 9-0 when they travel to North Cobb Christian on Friday.

Game: No.4 Darlington (8-0, 5-0) at North Cobb Christian (6-2, 3-2)

Last meeting: North Cobb Christian 35, Darlington 21 (Oct. 26, 2018)

All-time series: Darlington leads 2-1

On the air: WLAQ-AM 1410, FM 96.9

With the Class 6-A/A top seed already wrapped up, the Tigers head out on the road Friday to try to get a little revenge.

The Tigers travel to face North Cobb Christian — one of only two teams to defeat the Tigers in the regular season in 2018. Darlington already rolled over Mt. Zion-Carroll 38-0, and now has a chance to avenge its only other loss from last season.

“They got on us pretty good last year, so it’s going to be a huge chore to stop them,” Darlington head coach Tommy Atha said. “They throw the ball much better than they have in the past, so they’ve got a lot more weapons to defend. They have a ton of speed. Defensively, they move around a lot and cause a lot of havoc and run well to the football. Big, big challenge.”

But these Tigers aren’t the 2018 Darlington team. While many of the players are the same, the Tigers have improved over last year’s squad both offensively and defensively.

This season, Darlington is averaging 37.1 points per game, right at 25 more points per game than last year. The defense is also holding opponents to 8.6 points per game, making the Tigers one of the stingiest defenses in Class A.

“We’ve got a great group of seniors, and we’ve got a big senior class,” Atha said. “They’ve played a lot of football. A lot of these guys have gotten a lot of experience these last several years. They’ve got a lot of confidence. They play hard for each other. They’re completely bought into our program, from the offseason to conditioning through the summer to what we do on the field every day. They believe in everything that we do.”

Near the top of the Class A Private Power Ratings at No. 3, a win for Darlington could only help the Tigers as the season winds down. Staying in the top eight teams will secure the Tigers a bye through the first round of the Class A Private state playoffs.

Next week, the Tigers will face either Fellowship Christian or Whitefield Academy on the road in the Region 6-A championship game. A victory then would give them more momentum heading into the Class A state playoffs.

“We still feel like we can play at a higher level, but we’re playing with a lot of confidence at the right time,” Atha said. “There’s still two regular season games left to get ready for that postseason opportunity.”

— Jonathan Blaylock

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