That will not be easy this week as the Wildcats go on the road today to take on Allatoona, a region foe who went 11-2 a season ago on its way to the third round of the AAAAA state playoffs.
“They are a very disciplined team. They just line up and play very fundamentally sound and get after the football. They’ve always been like that,” Woodland coach Vincent DiLorenzo said. “They have a plan of how to attack each defense. It’s something they have worked on since they were playing rec league.”
Allatoona defeated Woodland last year by a score of 45-20 in the opening game of the season for both teams. Woodland now has the benefit of playing in their second game, while the home team has not shown what it can do yet.
Still, DiLorenzo has watched film of his opponent and has a good idea of what Allatoona brings to the table.
“They’re not as big as they were last year,” DiLorenzo said. “They are a very disciplined and very well-coached football team. They don’t do a lot of fancy things.”
The game will be a matchup of contrasting styles. Woodland runs the spread offense and will try to make use of its athletic talent at the receiver position. Allatoona, on the other hand, will run the ball between the tackles.
“They will run right at us,” DiLorenzo said. “They run the ball so well that the bootleg pass is a staple of theirs. When they get you thinking everything is going inside, they bootleg outside.”
Allatoona’s personnel fits its offensive game plan. The Buccaneers run out of the I-formation, which means they are a team that still makes use of the fullback position. Woodland linebackers will have to contend with a good one while trying to close Allatoona’s running lanes.
“Their fullback is a good player. He is a tough, hard-nosed blocker,” DiLorenzo said. “They don’t just have one skill player. Rather than have one standout player, their whole team is made up of hard-nosed football players.”
Defensively, Allatoona maintains its theme of 11 tough-minded, capable players. It’s this team-first mindset that makes the Buccaneers so tough.
However, DiLorenzo notes Woodland’s opponent today does have some talent, too, especially in its front seven.
“The nose guard plays hard. He is a really good player,” DiLorenzo said. “Their front is very active and they have two good linebackers who run well.”
Many teams would let their spirits get down after taking a 24-point loss in their season opener. DiLorenzo believes his team has done the opposite in the past week of practice.
“They came out and had good attitudes in our film session Saturday and worked hard on Monday,” he said of his team.
The key to Woodland staying in the game will be playing good, clean football and making a few crucial plays to give the Wildcats an advantage.
“The kicking game has to be sound. I’d like to be able to block a punt in the kicking game or something to create some momentum in our favor,” DiLorenzo said. “Offensively, we need to put more points on the board. We won’t beat many teams scoring three points or 13 points. We have to get the ball in the end zone.”
DiLorenzo admires the type of team Allatoona is and believes his squad can learn something from its opponent.
“That’s the kind of football team we have to be,” he said. “We have to be a hard-nosed, blue-collar football team who gets after it, never quits and never gives up. That way, at the end of the day, we can walk off the field with our heads held high knowing we’ve done our best.
“I think if we do those things, the wins will come.”