Jarrett Troxler has decided to try to turn a blind eye toward the game between Greenbrier and Statesboro -- at least until his game's final whistle.
The Lakeside coach takes his Panthers to Evans tonight, with this edition of the rivalry having more on the line than just the usual bragging rights.
If Statesboro beats Greenbrier, the winner of the Panthers-Knights game grabs the No. 3 seed in Region 2B-AAAA and will face the Region 2A-AAAA No. 2 team next week for a berth in the state playoffs.
Things would get a little chaotic if the Wolfpack tops the Blue Devils -- Greenbrier could move up to No. 2 if Evans wins -- but that game's result won't mean anything to the Panthers or Knights if they lose.
"We, as a staff, meet on Sunday, and we said let's not even talk about it," Troxler said of the scenarios. "The only thing that matters is we play well on Friday."
Both sides have been in close contests for most of the season, with Evans coach Marty Jackson saying his team "grew up a lot" after the 10-6 loss to Greenbrier, a setback linebacker Thad Greenway said put the Knights' backs to the wall.
Last week, the Knights had rare fumble issues in the loss to Effingham County, but Jackson also looked at the positive side considering they scored 31 points. He added he's happy with where the offense is going, with quarterback Glenn Cassedy (1,181 combined passing and rushing yards) and running back Jamerson Turner (606 rushing and receiving yards) leading the way.
Defensively, Greenway, who leads the Knights with 72 tackles, also sees tonight as a chance to exact revenge after the 17-0 defeat last season.
As for Lakeside, three of its five defeats have come by four points or less, with two of those losses in subregion play.
The Panthers have played without quarterback Mark Weidenaar, who tore both his anterior cruciate ligament and medial collateral ligament in his knee, for the whole season. Star linebacker Kendal Parker has also been dealing with inflammation in a leg that was previously broken. Troxler said Parker would be a game-time decision.
Offensively, Troxler is hoping for bigger plays, but he is pleased with the attack's progress under quarterback Ben Wilson, who Jackson considers a tailback at the quarterback position.
"It doesn't get much bigger than this," Wilson said. "We've got to get the job done."
Wilson has helped the offense score more consistently in recent weeks, as after averaging 14.8 points per game in Lakeside's first four games, it has upped the average a bit to 22.3 in the most recent four contests.
But Evans has series history on its side, even with 2009's loss. The Knights lead 13-4-1 and won five meetings in a row from 2004-2008. Seven of the most recent 10 meetings have also been decided by at least 14 points.
"They kicked our butts last season," Jackson said. "So we've got to focus on the task at hand."