Parkview coach Cecil Flowe wasn't saying it, but you gotta believe he was thinking it.
Not only was Parkview's 21-14 win over Brookwood Friday night a big one for Panther Nation because it was over its arch-rival in the so-called annual "Battle of Five Forks-Trickum."
It also put the 10th-ranked Panthers smack dab in the middle of the driver's seat on the road to the Region 8-AAAAAA championship. The win pushed Parkview to 4-1 overall, 3-0 in the region — all three wins coming over playoff teams from last year, including defending champ Grayson and 2010 champ Brookwood.
And it seems the most difficult stretch of Parkview's regular-season schedule is behind them.
"I'm looking at Dacula next in two weeks and that's all," Flowe said in classic take-'em-one-game-at-a-time form.
"We're going to try to get a little better every week."
Outside a few missteps, Friday's performance will be hard to beat.
Running back Chris Carson had his best night of the season, rushing for 255 yards and two touchdowns as Parkview accumulated an astounding 436 rushing yards against Brookwood's respected defense. The Panthers were especially effective running out of the Wildcat, with Carson and Justis Rosser (47 rushing yards) taking those snaps.
Carson had 95 yards on his first two carries, highlighting a three-play 99-yard "drive" with a 73-yard touchdown run down the sideline at the 6:25 mark of the first quarter. Later in the first half, quarterback Mac Marshall, used a terrific fake on a misdirection play and went 95 yards on a touchdown run to make it 14-0.
Brookwood (2-2, 1-1) seemed to be have problems countering Parkview's myriad of offensive formations — from the Wildcat, to the shot gun, to Marshall taking snaps directly from the center.
"We gave them a mix of looks to keep them on their toes," said Marshall, who passed only once. "[Offensive Coordinator Robert Hill] did a great job of calling plays."
Brookwood pushed the score to 14-7 just before half on a fourth-down run from the 1 by Jamaal Cole. But Parkview looked dominant for most of the second half, driving 74 yards in the third quarter to take a 21-7 lead on a 5-yard run by Carson late in the third. The Panthers were poised to put the game away in the fourth, but Carson was stripped of the ball near the Brookwood 15, opening the door for a Broncos comeback.
Brookwood then took five plays to go 89 yards, the final 30 coming on a pass from Zach Moon to Cole. Brookwood appeared to have tied the game inside the final five minutes on a 13-yard run by Josh Brown, but a holding call nullified the score, the second Brookwood TD of the game called back by penalty. Two plays later, Moon threw an incompletion into the end zone, ending the threat.
Parkview's defense had its own difficulties stopping Brookwood's passing attack. Moon completed 13 of 19 passes for 261 yards. But the Panthers did keep Cole in check. The highly regarded running back to 38 yards. Brookwood had only 72 as a team.
Parkview's win snapped a three-game losing streak to Brookwood.
"We didn't want our seniors to go out without beating Brookwood," said Marshall, a junior. "That was big."