Cherokee up next for streaking Canes

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The Cartersville High football team has the longest active regular-season winning steak in the state, 41 games. It's the 12th-longest streak of its kind in Georgia high school football history. The last time Cartersville lost a home game in the regular season was in 2011, a streak of 34 straight games.

However, to Canes head coach Joey King, the key to that kind of success is taking it one game at a time.

"For me, it's just what's going to be successful this week and what we can do well this week, and just take it from there."

This week brings a new challenge, possibly the toughest so far this season, with Class 7A Cherokee coming to Weinman Stadium Friday.

The Warriors went 0-10 in Class 7A last year in a region with big-school strongholds Walton, Roswell, Woodstock, Etowah and Lassiter.

The Cherokee program has been mostly down since 2008, with just two winning seasons in the last nine years. The Warriors seriously contended for a state championship in 2002 and 2003, though, narrowly losing in the state playoffs to eventual finalists in the highest classification in consecutive seasons.

This year, Cherokee is 2-2 entering Friday's game, coming off an exciting one-point, second-half comeback win over Kennesaw Mountain. The Warriors scored a touchdown with three seconds left to narrow its deficit to one point. They then went for 2 and converted for the win.

Georgia High School Football Daily highlighted safety and running back Grant Mogelnicki this week in its daily newsletter. According to GHSFD, the senior "Ivy League" recruit finished with more than 300 all-purpose yards in his first game playing offense this season and added nine tackles on defense.

Mogelnicki leads what King says is probably the best offense the Canes have seen so far, possibly jeopardizing Cartersville's streak of three consecutive games without allowing a touchdown.

"Offensively, they're spread. They have a quarterback, a little left-handed guy [Landon Ergle]. He can run it, throw it, he makes good decisions and executes well. They do a good job," King said. "[Mogelnicki] is a good player, a good athlete. They have a couple of receivers who are dangerous and a good offensive line. So it's probably the toughest test we've faced on that side of the ball this year, and [defensive coordinator Conor] Foster seems to believe so too. So we'll see."

Defensively, Cherokee mainly runs out an odd front with two strong corners, two strong middle linebackers and a big defensive line.

In fact, everything about Cherokee will be bigger than the last two weeks against Luella and McNair, teams that couldn't match the roster size of the Canes nor the fan support.

With Cherokee being a Class 7A school, King is looking forward to the visitor's stands and sidelines being full Friday.

"I expect Cherokee to bring a crowd," King said. "We've seen them on tape and they pack their stadium out. Their student section is live, so going over there next year will be a good experience."

As for the Canes, the 2018 season has gotten off to about as good of a start as could have been hoped for. Cartersville is 3-0 and has defeated opponents by a combined margin of 160-3, including last week's 70-0 win over McNair, the third-widest single-game margin of victory in the program's 105-season history and the widest margin since 1929.

Junior quarterback Tee Webb has looked stellar in his first year as the starter, senior running back Marcus Gary has shown to be dynamic as a rushing and receiving threat, multiple receivers are making plays, and the Canes' varsity defense has yet to allow an opponent to even sniff the end zone.

Cartersville will be the favorites to win once again this week, but with Region 5-AAAA play one week away, the Canes will be looking to round out any rough edges and move into midseason form. 

King cited the improvement of his young secondary, which includes sophomore starters Evan Slocum and Devonte Ross, as a highlight of what he said was a strong week of practice that included "some good conditioning." 

"I feel good. I feel like we're where we're supposed to be," King said of his squad with just four returning starters from last year. "We got a lot of guys reps [against McNair], and another game's worth of experience for this club right now is critical."

In a bit of recruiting news, Webb's name has been popping up a lot lately as he puts up eye-opening numbers. He's thrown for 750 yards while completing 65.5 percent of his passes with 13 touchdowns and one interception through three games. 

Webb already had his share of interest from major colleges, but 247 Sports recruiting analyst Rusty Mansell recently tweeted Alabama has been in touch "weekly" after a strong performance at the Crimson Tide's camp in late July.

King confirmed the increased interest in Webb from major colleges is real. Coaches cannot call, text or message a recruit until his junior year, so Webb's recruitment has drastically picked up recently.

"He is [impressing a lot of people]. Not us. We know what he can do, but it's starting to gain some more attention and it's well-deserved. But it's a result of everybody's success, not just his," King said. "He's officially a junior now, and that opens a lot of doors. The first day, he got a whole bunch of text messages as soon as the recruitment period opened up. But he's handled it well, just like we think he should, just like I thought he would."

Cartersville fans will have another chance to see Webb and the rest of the Canes up close with their fourth consecutive home game to start the season. Next week will be the first road test when the region season begins at Cedartown, before another two home games against Central-Carroll and LaGrange.

"One, from a logistics standpoint, and two, we love playing in front of the home crowd," King said of another game at Weinman. "This atmosphere is a truly special place to be Friday nights, and I expect it to be again [Friday night]."