Game: Model (4-4, 4-1) at Coosa (1-7, 1-4)

Last meeting: Coosa 30, Model 14 (Oct. 25, 2018)

All-time series: Coosa leads 38-18

On the air: Mountain Coast Network —

Three years after their last postseason appearance, the Model Blue Devils have fought their way back into the top half of the Region 7-AA standings and into playoff contention.

On the strength of a steely-eyed defense and determined offense, first-year head coach Jeff Hunnicutt and his staff have been able to turn Model’s fortunes around. But with two games left, including one against No. 1 Rockmart, the Blue Devils know they can’t take their foot off the gas.

“These kids are to be commended for being such a resilient bunch. These seniors have been through three head coaches now and some of them are getting to experience something that they never had before,” Hunnicutt said.

“I asked them to put that on their shoulders to start building some tradition again on this side of town. We’ve been able to that, and this team, to my knowledge, has not looked forward. And I’m trying to make sure our blinders are on again this week. Upsets happen week in and week out. From our level all the way up. And that’s just part of it.”

With more wins this season than in the last two combined, Model arrives at Eagle Stadium on Friday night looking to keep their momentum going against Coosa, which has battled youth and injuries this season.

“We want to take care of business this week,” Hunnicutt said. “I told the team today it’s another county opponent. Coosa is in a bit of a transition period where they are down, but that’s not saying anything negative about their team.

“They have tremendous athletes at some key positions and are a very athletic bunch. We can’t take or foot off the gas. We’ve got to keep accelerating heading into that Rockmart matchup. We can’t be caught looking forward. It’s a big game, but it is the next one.”

While Coosa owns a 38-18 advantage in the series, the two teams have split the last six games with the winner usually earning a berth in the state playoffs. While Model had a string of five straight postseason appearances from 2012-2016, the Blue Devils have failed to qualify for the playoffs the last two seasons.

After losing its first three games of the season, Model comes into Friday’s game having won four of their last five while holding opponents to six points or less aside from a 28-0 loss at Pepperell — the Blue Devils’ lone blemish on their region record.

With wins over Chattooga and Gordon Central the last two weeks, Model has positioned itself to at least a place at the postseason table, with its final seeding still to be decided.

Model forced five turnovers in its 21-0 win over the Warriors last week as well as two turnovers on downs. It was the latest example of the Blue Devils’ bend-don’t-break mentality on defense.

Coosa is coming off of a 60-7 loss at Rockmart last week and received a tough blow a couple weeks ago when starting quarterback Brevan Knight was lost for the season due to an injury. In his absence, the Eagles have moved all-purpose athlete Terry Curry behind center.

“He’s one of the most athletic people in this region, no matter on what surface he’s playing,” Hunnicutt said of the junior. “Now he’s touching the ball a lot because he is the quarterback, and that’s an issue. He has tremendous quickness and speed. And they’re going to attack us like some other people have and try to get him to the corner. It’s up to our guys to contain that.”

Hunnicutt added that the football game will be decided on the line of scrimmage, and both teams will be challenged to win up front.

— Jeremy Stewart

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