Just six games into the season, Hephzibah's postseason hopes already are in trouble. In fact, those dreams are on life support.
With their 25-7 loss to Thomson on Friday - a defeat in which they were thoroughly pummeled in the final 30 minutes - the Rebels dropped to 1-3 in Region 3-AAAA.
That means Statesboro, Thomson, Baldwin, Glenn Hills, Greenbrier and Butler are in front of Hephzibah as the teams fight for four playoff spots. Lakeside and Jones County still are also involved.
Basically, the Rebels - who face Glenn Hills, Lakeside, Butler and Cross Creek to end the season - need to be perfect the rest of the year.
Is it possible? Can Hephzibah jump-start its heartbeat?
Offensive lineman Fred Roland thinks so.
"I know we can," Roland said. "We have the potential. We have all the potential, and we've gotten rid of the dead weight. We'll come out and practice hard and correct our mistakes."
Even then, it might not be enough.
Statesboro and Thomson are undefeated in region play while Baldwin, Greenbrier and Butler have one loss apiece.
Four of those teams likely will make the playoffs. Hephzibah likely will not.
It's Rebels coach Todd Booker's job to keep his squad motivated - even if the rest of the season might be a lost cause.
"We've got to be positive," Booker said. "We have to look at it and be positive. Instead of thinking about what we need to do, we need to go out and do it."
Hephzibah couldn't against the seventh-ranked Bulldogs.
Although the Rebels played evenly with Thomson through the first 1 1/2 quarters and even took a 7-6 lead when Robert Hannah hit Diemere Martin for a 23-yard touchdown pass in the second quarter, they could't sustain that intensity.
If Hephzibah isn't perfect the rest of the year, it'll have lost a special opportunity to make the playoffs for just the second time in school history.
After all, seniors Robert Hannah, Reggie Hughes, Rent Sherrill, Fred Roland and Romar Douglas - all leaders, all strong players - will be gone next year.
"Hopefully, we'll come out Monday and work hard at practice," Booker said. "It's time for us to pick it up a notch. Our last four ballgames are big for us. We still have the tough part of our schedule to go. I think we have a good shot at competing with the last four teams we play. It'll come down to who makes the plays."
For the Rebels, the time to make plays quickly is running out.
Reach Josh Katzowitz at (706) 823-3216 or firstname.lastname@example.org.