With three of the four county teams in completely different classifications, games between each other, except for the annual region Cass-Woodland matchup, are far from guaranteed.
It takes special effort to keep the county rivalries alive, but the coaches in the county are willing to go to those lengths.
Bishop and Woodland coach Tony Plott set up the scrimmage this year and last, and Bishop’s team will also play Bobby Hughes’ Cass in Week 2, meaning that all the county teams except for Cartersville will play each other this year.
There’s certainly a charged atmosphere surrounding those games, but the level of respect is higher as well.
“I have all the respect in the world for coach Bishop and his coaching staff,” Plott said. “They are great people and they’re great coaches, and it’s fun to be able to compete against them.”
GREASED — The first two possessions of the game set the tone for most of the rest of the first half for Adairsville and Woodland — and not in a good way.
Adairsville took the ball to start and put together a good drive, moving the ball from its 30 to Woodland’s 29, but quarterback Bryce Burgess fumbled there and Woodland’s Kurtis Feanny scooped it up. Woodland got one yard farther but returned the favor seven plays later, driving to Adairsville’s 28 before putting the ball on the ground and seeing it scooped up by the Tigers’ Chance Jones.
The teams would play “No, you take it” in the second quarter too, with Woodland fumbling on their own 30 but Adairsville losing the best scoring chance of the half four plays later as Mason Boswell fumbled it right back on first-and-10 from the 20.
Fumbles, mostly caused on bad snaps, continued to hurt the Tigers all the way to the end of the game, with two second-half drives killed by miscues on the center-quarterback exchange. Combined, the two teams might have put near double-digit balls on the ground on a night when light condensation made the field slippery, but certainly not drenched.
“When you’re in the pistol offense and you don’t have a consistent snap, that can get ugly real fast, because that puts timing off on everything,” Adairsville coach Eric Bishop said, citing “personnel issues” as a reason for the inconsistent snaps. “But we’ll hopefully fix those things and get back to where we need to be on a consistent level.”
SCREEN GAME — It was tough for Woodland running back Justice Carter to get going in the first half, with his longest carry going for 11 yards.
But with their star mostly bottled up on handoffs, Woodland may have found another way to get Carter involved. He made two catches out of the backfield, with one going for 17 yards and the second for 22.
The latter was especially well-executed, with Carter sneaking out for a screen pass that completely fooled a charging Adairsville defense.
With a broken field in front of him and some room to run, Carter put on a couple moves and ended up picking up the first down on a third-and-16.
Carter’s catches were two of only five the Wildcats managed in the first half, with two more going to Titus Jones and one to Jaylen Ballard.
HIT SOMEBODY — The number that immediately stands out in Cartersville’s scrimmage Friday is zero — Cartersville didn’t allow a single Westminster point.
They tackled hard and with a purpose, releasing whatever pent up energy they’d been storing from a summer competing against themselves.
Nyvin Nelson flew all over the field, driving Westminster ballcarriers into the ground, as the sound of the vicious collisions he initiated reverberated to the farthest corners of Weinman Stadium.
Precocious sophomore Marko Dudley had a first-half interception, and the defense overall put a lot of pressure on the Westminster offense.
This Cartersville team lost eight starters from last year, and while Friday’s game was just a scrimmmage, there are a lot of positives to be taken away from their performance, especially given that the defense is the biggest question mark coming into the season.
WHAT’S IN A NAME — The most delightful part of Friday’s game came with an entry on Westminster’s roster.
The Wildcats employ a running back/linebacker by the name of Miles Davis.
Davis had a decent showing Friday, but not anything to write home to Don Cheadle about.
If I were Davis and didn’t know better, I’d think that the vuvuzelas that reverberated from the Cartersville stands were a thinly veiled cheer for him. They are trumpet-adjacent!
Anyways, Miles Davis, the famous jazz musician did not play in this game. But that would’ve been something.
UNVEILED WEAPONS — Marcus Gary is going to be a helpful player for Cartersville this season.
Head coach Joey King did a bit of showing Gary off Friday, having him carry the ball and catch it out of the backfield to almost equal levels of success.
With Gary and Rico Frye, Cartersville is extremely deep at running back, and can utlilize the two’s different styles, with Gary’s shiftiness and Frye’s downhill, hard-nosed running.
Throw in Trevor Lawrence, E.J. Turner, JKobe Orr, T.J. Horton, and a coming-out party Friday from Kaleb Chatmon — who had a nice game himself — and this is going to be an extremely prolific offense.
The starters tallied 24 points in less than a quarter and a half Friday, and the team put up 31 points like it was nothing.
—DTN staffers Andrew Houghton and Evan Greenberg contributed to this report.