Patriots open playoffs at Allatoona

• Who: Heritage Patriots (8-2) at Allatoona Buccaneers (9-1)

• When: 7:30 p.m. today

• Where: Allatoona High School, Acworth

• Last week: Heritage was idle; Allatoona lost to East Paulding, 25-7

• Series: First meeting

CONYERS -- Playoff appearances are starting to become a regular occurrence for the Heritage football team. After not appearing in the state tournament for five consecutive years, the Patriots will play a first-round game for the third consecutive season (a school record since the program began in 1976) when they open tonight at Region 5-AAAAA runner-up Allatoona.

The Patriots, the No. 3 seed from Region 8-AAAAA, didn't lose a game until Week 5 at Gainesville and finished the regular season 8-2. But Heritage's losses came to the region champion Red Elephants and No. 2 seed Flowery Branch, which ended up knocking the Conyers school to the No. 3 seed.

That meant a road trip for Round 1, but Heritage coach Chad Frazier thinks his team matches up just fine with the region champion Buccaneers.

"They've got a very good ball club. I'm looking forward to the matchup," said Frazier, who is 1-2 in the playoffs as Heritage coach. "I think we match up pretty well with them."

The experience Frazier's club got in facing high-powered offenses like Gainesville, Flowery Branch and Clarke Central, and the fact that the defense allowed an average of less than 14 points, should come in handy tonight. Allatoona, which was tied with Thomas County Central at No. 4 in the Associated Press Class AAAAA poll, the final rankings until after the postseason, before last week's loss to East Paulding in the league title game, averaged 34.5 points.

"Quarterback is very solid, especially in the play action game, they have a good strong running game, couple good tailbacks. They're solid," Frazier said.

Playmakers aside -- and Heritage has its share with linebacker/tight end Chase Alford leading the way on both sides of the ball -- Frazier believes the first round matchup will be decided in the trenches.

"I think the game is going to come down to the line of scrimmage," Frazier said. "I think everything else is about even (and) I think we're going to have to outplay them on the line of scrimmage, both sides of the ball."

Allatoona is a fifth-year school that is coming off a quarterfinal loss to eventual state champion Burke County a year ago, while Heritage lost to Ware County in the second round in 2011.

"It should be a good one," said Frazier.