The Tigers’ record might be 6-3 overall, 4-2 in Region 5-AAA but Cartersville coach Frank Barden views tonight’s opponent as being on the same level as the Purple Hurricanes.
“They (the Tigers) are a team that is two to three plays away from being undefeated,” Barden said. “They are also a team that was also one loss away from not making the [Class AAA] playoffs. Since day one I’ve been saying they are a very good football team, and they have proved it.”
Ringgold, who clinched a playoff berth with its 14-9 victory over Lakeview-Fort Oglethorpe last week, proved it by winning four straight after an 0-2 start in region play. In their lone visit to Bartow County, numerous Ringgold players hung their head in anguish after watching Adairsville’s Dakota Hines kick a game-winning field goal with 14 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter. Ringgold had lost to Gordon Central, 27-26, the week before.
“We dug ourselves a big hole with those two region losses, but we were fortunate to climb out of it,” Ringgold coach Robert Akins said. “Turnovers, stupid mistakes and penalties hurt us in both of our region losses. Since then, we’ve improved each week as a team. Our players have banded together, knowing what was at stake every time we took the field.”
Since giving up 40 points in its loss to Adairsville. Ringgold has allowed its next four opponents a combined 31 points.
Ringgold and Cartersville are nearly on par defensively.
The Canes’ defense is yielding 11 points per game, Ringgold, 16 points per game. Offensively, Cartersville is averaging 42 points per game, while Ringgold’s offense is averaging 32 points per game. In their 56-7 victory over the Sonoraville Phoenix last week, the Canes’ special teams accounted for two touchdowns and its defense one. The other five belonged to the offense. Cartersville’s defense has held Ringgold to a single touchdown in each of their last two meetings.
“Now we have to find a way to stop Cartersville and put the ball in the end zone,” Akins said. “That means we have to step it up even more. This is a team that takes care of business, both on offense and on defense.”
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