Branch gives Tigers 300 AP yards, 3 TDs


Friday night was a good day for Bartow County high school football teams playing at home.

Adairsville picked up its first win of the season by a score of 48-34 at Tiger Stadium.

Adairsville separated late in the fourth quarter from Ringgold thanks to improved defensive play in the second half, a strong run game and big plays on special teams.

The Tigers are now 1-3 and will play a region crossover game next week against Murray County.

Cartersville also earned a home win, taking down Hapeville Charter by a score of 38-7.

The Canes overcame penalties to have another big day in the passing game. The defense, establishing itself as one of the premier units in the state regardless of classification, did not allow a first down in the second half.

With the victory, the Canes extended their win streak to 19 and are 4-0 entering region play next week at Cedartown.

The game that carried the most playoff implications was Cass’ 14-12 victory over Hiram at Doug Cochran Stadium. The Colonels’ stout defense and the running of workhorse Derrick Maxwell was enough to earn a much-needed win and improve Cass to 3-1 on the year.

The one team playing on the road, Woodland, did not have as nice of a Friday evening as the Wildcats fell by a score of 41-0 against Villa Rica.

Adairsville, Cartersville and Cass combined to score exactly 100 points, and combined with some individual efforts on defense, there was no shortage of standouts this week.


Travon Branch — Adairsville

In a game decided by 14 points, two return touchdowns proved to be the difference against Ringgold.

Branch had the longest of those kick-return touchdowns, taking one to the house from 95 yards out. He added another of about 50 yards to help the Tigers total 264 yards on five kickoff returns.

It was not just on special teams where Branch left a mark, though. 

He also had an extremely efficient night in the slot. He carried the ball eight times for 116 yards and a touchdown. He had a 31-yard touchdown reception as well.

Overall, Branch was responsible for at least 300 all-purpose yards and three touchdowns.


Derrick Maxwell — Cass (2)

Maxwell announced his intentions on the first plays of the game when he hammered Hiram’s defense for seven- and six-yard gains on runs straight up the middle.

The power back plowed through Hornets defenders all night, racking up 32 carries for 159 yards and both of his team’s touchdowns.

Maxwell didn’t have a run longer than his 26-yard touchdown in the first quarter, but 18 of his carries went for four yards or more, as the Colonels leaned heavily on the senior to move the chains.

“We do this at practice every day and I’m just told that they’re going to put a big load on me, they expect a lot out of me, so...” a smiling, shrugging Maxwell said after the game.

Christian Steele — Adairsville

Adairsville moved Jeb Simerly to center Friday night, putting its best blocker at the point of attack, as the Tigers gashed Ringgold right up the middle on the ground.

Steele was the beneficiary and he plowed his way to 124 yards rushing on 14 carries, moving defenders and the pile with hard running up the gut.

Denzel Pitt — Adairsville

The Tigers’ 6-foot-5 defensive end is an athletic presence setting the edge, and he proved to be a disruptive force Friday night.

He made seven tackles, four solo, forced a fumble and registered four tackles for loss. The stops in the backfield set Ringgold back a combined 27 yards.

Trevor Lawrence — Cartersville (4)

Cartersville’s quarterback and the top prospect in the Class of 2018 went 20-of-30 passing for 233 yards with four touchdowns against Hapeville Charter, a secondary with two Division I prospects at cornerback.

However, Lawrence’s line would have looked much better had it not been for five big passing plays called back because of penalties.

Even with the laundry negating some of Lawrence’s impressive throws, he still dissected the Hornets’ defense. He went 3-for-3 on Cartersville’s opening touchdown drive for 42 yards, and he went 6-of-8 for 53 yards on a touchdown drive just before halftime.

Avery Showell — Cartersville (3)

Showell brought his sack total to five on the season with one in the second quarter. The senior outside linebacker and Wake Forest commit added four tackles, including three solo.

Despite the impact defensive performance, it was his work on the offensive side of the ball that will make the highlight reel.

Showell caught three passes for 55 yards, including touchdowns of 19 and 33 yards.

Emmanuel Jones — Woodland (2)

“I had a referee come up to me and tell me he had to tone it down a little bit, that he was trying to punish people, not tackle people,” Woodland head coach Tony Plott said of senior linebacker Jones after the Cass game on Sept. 9. “That’s a first in my career. I’ve never had a referee tell me that about a defensive player. ... I said, ‘This is football.’”

Jones continued to punish opposing offensive players this week at Villa Rica.

He had 11 tackles, three solo, a sack, a forced fumble and two quarterback pressures.


Wesley Thacker — The Adairsville outside linebacker had 11 tackles, nine solo, with a pass breakup against Ringgold.

Roger Redd — Adairsville’s signal caller went 7-of-14 passing for 146 yards and three touchdowns.

T.J. Horton — The Cartersville junior receiver made five receptions for 61 yards and a touchdown against Hapeville Charter.

Antoine Jefferson — Cartersville’s leading receiver so far this season, Jefferson had three receptions for 36 yards and a touchdown. He also returned a punt 49 yards for the Canes’ second touchdown of the game.