The second intra-Bartow County game of the 2016 season will feature two teams in need of a lift.
Cass will travel to Woodland Friday to take on the Wildcats in a game that will kick off region play for both teams—and sees both teams in need of a win.
The Colonels looked to have announced themselves as a playoff contender with a 34-0 win over Adairsville two weeks ago, but took a step back with a 28-25 loss to Sonoraville last week.
“They realized that we didn’t play up to the standards that we set for ourself,” Cass coach Bobby Hughes said about his players. “They were disappointed in their performance but hats off to Sonoraville, they’re a good football team.”
The Wildcats, meanwhile, are still looking for their first win of the season after falling to Rockmart, 37-12, last week to drop to 0-2. The loss stretched Woodland’s losing streak to eight games since they beat River Ridge, 42-24, last September.
“The biggest thing is for us to show up to play, to stay focused during the week,” Woodland coach Tony Plott said. “Make sure that we’re prepared, mentally and physically to play a game on Friday.”
Both teams will be looking to get back on the right track and start their region schedule with a win, and the intra-county angle only adds more spice to the matchup.
“Any chance you get to play somebody that the kids grew up playing with and against, they get excited for that, and for us it’s an opportunity to get out and play,” Hughes said.
To have a chance, Woodland will have to quiet Cass’ playmakers, led by Laizon West. The slotback had three catches for 60 yards and a score against Sonoraville, and he’s flanked by other dangerous speedsters in Terry Berdin and Derrick Maxwell, each of whom also scored last week.
The Colonels are quarterbacked by converted safety Brett Gaddy, who threw two touchdowns last week after tossing three against Adairsville.
The Wildcats’ defense starts with the disruptive tendencies of hybrid linebacker/end Emmanuel Jones, who had a 40-yard interception return for Woodland’s first touchdown against Rockmart.
“I’m very impressed with Emmanuel Jones, he’s played some linebacker and some defensive end for them,” Hughes said. “He’s a big kid, he runs well, very athletic.”
On offense, Woodland will run a run-heavy wing-T, relying on running back Justice Carter, quarterback Brody Williams and hybrid Brycen Kellet to handle most of the carries.
“They run a trap and dive option which you have to spend time with responsibility-wise, making sure we’re on the dive quarterback and pitch,” Hughes said.
Hughes’ defense is anchored by linebacker Tripp Breeden in the middle.
“They’re real stout up front, and then they have the middle linebacker Breeden, he’s a really good football player,” Plott said about the junior, who led the Colonels with nine tackles against Sonoraville.
It’s game that could send either team into region play with momentum—or send them further into a tailspin. With only seven region games apiece, avoiding an early loss could be crucial for playoff hopes.
Even though it’s early in the season, Hughes captured the importance of the game succinctly.
“On Friday night, half the teams in the region are going to be sitting at 1-0 and half of them are going to be sitting at 0-1.”