Those concerns came to fruition as Cartersville had plenty of big plays thanks to that speed, and the Canes dominated in their 42-7 victory at Weinman Stadium.
“We know they are a very good football team and that, team speed-wise, we weren’t going to be able to stay with them,” Casko said of Friday night’s game.
With speed, comes big plays. The Cass coach knew Cartersville’s speed would create big gains and that there was little his team could do besides try to curtail those plays before they reached the end zone.
“They have a lot of big-play capability,” Casko said on the Tuesday leading up to the game. “They are going to move the ball because they are very talented. It’s a matter of keeping them off the goal line.”
Cass heeded Casko’s words and was able to keep Cartersville off the goal line for most of the first half. Cartersville still had big plays, but they did not result in touchdowns.
The Colonels had two crucial third-down stops when Cartersville had the ball in the red zone to force field goal attempts. Both attempts were missed. Consequently, Cass only trailed 7-0 at halftime despite being outgained 280 to 59.
Unfortunately for the Colonels, The “bend but don’t break” philosophy only worked for so long. Casko’s fear of the big plays actually becoming scoring plays was realized as Cartersville had nine gains of 20 yards or more and eight more plays that resulted in gains of 15 yards or more.
The speed advantage Cartersville exhibited throughout the first half actually put points on the scoreboard board in the second.
Cass has its own speed, but not as much as Cartersville. Few teams do.
The disparity between the two teams was most noticeable on one particular slant route in which quarterback Brooks Barden connected with Mark Quattlebaum in the fourth quarter. Quattlebaum caught the ball roughly five yards from the line of scrimmage. After the catch, he was seemingly surrounded by Colonels with no way out. Quattlebaum turned upfield and began running to his right to avoid the tacklers. He ended up going backwards to try to get away. Still, the Cass defenders had him trapped and had all the angles covered to make the tackle. However, Quattlebaum’s speed managed to get him out of the trap and down the sideline for a first down on a third-and-8.
It was only a 9-yard gain, but it would have been a 5-yard gain and forced a fourth down for a more reasonably fleet of foot player. For Quattlebaum and the Canes, the play showed why they are ranked third in AAA.