This summer, Cartersville has been unable to win any tournaments, but coach Frank Barden is encouraged by his squad and believes the team is attaining important experience as the preseason nears.
“I’ve been happy with the summer. I’m not concerned with them winning, because sometimes there may be a better team out there than you,” Barden said. “This is a team I like. They did well this summer. They handle themselves and they take care of themselves. They are learning to make decisions when things are good and when it’s bad. That’s important.”
Cartersville won last season’s Southeastern 7-on-7 tournament in Dalton. This summer, the team reached the championship game before losing to Colquitt County on Sunday.
Colquitt County, an AAAAA football powerhouse, was one of many talented teams in the tournament.
“Oh man,” Barden said when asked how good the competition was in the tournament. “There were some really good, athletic teams there. There were teams from Florida, Louisiana, Kentucky, Alabama, Missouri and Indiana. It is a really good tournament.”
As is often the case in the summer, certain players unexpectedly stand out, which may portend to a breakout season.
One such player Barden has noticed is rising sophomore receiver Terrius Callahan.
“The Callahan kid is,” Barden said when asked if there has been any pleasant surprises this summer. “He’s had a really good past couple of 7-on-7s. He’s gotten really good reps this summer, and it’s been good for him.”
Kobie Whitfield is a defensive back, wide receiver and another rising sophomore who has impressed. Between he and Callahan, the future is looking bright for the Canes.
The 7-on-7 tournaments is also a good opportunity for players to get comfortable playing a new position. Such is the case with rising junior Kalin Heath.
“Defensively, it’s a good experience to get out there and play with your teammates and develop chemistry,” Barden said. “Our linebackers did well. Kalin Heath was a running back last year and now playing linebacker, so we want those kids to get good reps in.”
Overall, the Canes went 10-2 in Dalton.
“Our kids went and competed and played well,” Barden said. “It was really a good weekend for our kids, and I think they got a lot of good reps in, which is exciting for me because a lot of the things that you experience in those game situations you experience in the 7-on-7 game.”