Adairsville football coach Eric Bishop is thankful for a lot of things. One of the top things on his list Thursday night certainly had to be the fact that his team’s matchup with Woodland was nothing more than a scrimmage.
The offenses for both teams, particularly the Tigers, were stagnant. Only a person in Ripley’s Believe It or Not could count the number of combined fumbles on both hands. Pre-snap penalties — both offensive and defensive — were more common than completed passes.
“Thank goodness for Georgia high school football for allowing us to do this,” Bishop said. “If that was the first game, I think [Woodland] coach [Tony] Plott and myself would both be on suicide watch. ...
“You expect some mistakes. Hopefully, we’re going to clean those up. A lot of the problems we had tonight are easy fixes. There wasn’t lack-of-effort issues; there wasn’t a whole lot of busted assignments. It was just mental mistakes and careless physical mistakes at times.”
All told, both coaches will feel as though they have their work cut out for them before the regular season begins next Friday. Adairsville will host Chattooga, and Woodland will head to Southeast Whitfield.
Besides the scrimmage sloppiness, the Wildcats will feel much better about things as a whole, especially considering the final score — had it been displayed on the scoreboard — was 37-10 in favor of Woodland.
“It was very sloppy,” Plott said. “We had stupid penalties, not having enough people on the line of scrimmage, center-quarterback exchanges — things that we shouldn’t have happen. There were some bright spots to build on, but we need to take care of the little things first.
“I wasn’t really concerned with the final score. I was just wanting to see us be sharp and crisp and do the little things right. We didn’t really do a whole lot of that.”
Aside from several poor quarterback-center exchanges, sophomore Jakob Foss showed plenty of potential in the passing game. It’s a segment of the Wildcats offense that hasn’t been displayed much in recent years.
Foss finished a perfect 6-for-6 for 123 yards and one touchdown. He connected with Dawson Wilkins, Justice Carter and Dylan Forman twice apiece. Wilkins had 76 yards, including a 51-yard touchdown with just 18 seconds remaining in the first half to help put Woodland up 21-0 at the break.
Demarcus Williams paced the Wildcats rushing attack with 98 yards on four carries in the first half before fumbling on his only attempt of the third quarter. Carter had 26 yards on the ground and 38 through the air with a one-yard rushing touchdown.
If any unit played up to its potential, it would have been the Woodland defense.
The first-string Wildcats flew to the ball like Thursday’s contest, moved up 24 hours due to a shortage of officials, counted for something. Blake Cash recovered two fumbles in the first half. He took the first one to the house on the second play of the game to set the tone early.
Cash also was involved in the lowest point of the game. After an ill-advised throw was picked off by Seth Johnson, Adairsville junior quarterback Derrick Simmons got into a skirmish with Cash. Simmons wound up throwing a punch at Cash and getting ejected from the game.
It was a night to forget for the Tigers as a whole.
Woodland’s defense held the dynamic Mason Boswell in check most of the evening. Running back Landon Ayers, who had 56 rushing yards, and defensive lineman Chandler Shankles were probably the top performers for Adairsville.
The first-string offense didn’t score until Chris Rodriguez’s 35-yard field goal to cap Adairsville’s first drive of the second half. It essentially signaled the end of the “starters” portion of the night, as freshmen flooded the field for the final 16-plus minutes of game action.
A couple of them showed some skill with Woodland ninth-grade backs Quentin Burgs and Asa James each breaking off long touchdown runs.
Adairsville’s lone touchdown came in between those two. Third-string quarterback Connor Crunkelton, who also saw significant time on defense, found a wide-open Courtney Slocum for a 52-yard touchdown in the final minute of the third quarter.