Adairsville showed signs it has learned that lesson against Lakeview-Fort Oglethorpe on Friday night.
The Tigers had to deal with adversity early in that contest as they mishandled the game’s first punt and set LFO up in business deep in Adairsville territory, at the 39.
The Tigers answered the challenge by stopping the Warrior offense in its tracks, alloting LFO a minimum of plays and then taking the ball back over on downs.
Adairsville’s offense responded by covering 52 yards in six plays, with Marcus Childers capping the effort with a 20-yard touchdown strike to Austin Harris.
The Tigers went on to score 49 points on the evening while its defense limited the Warriors to a goose egg on the scoreboard. Indeed, LFO managed only an unsuccessful field goal attempt against those Tigers.
Adairsville head coach Eric Bishop said he and his coaching staff emphasize they should not let adversity stop the team from playing its best at any time.
“We talk to them all the time about handling adversity and dealing with the adversity,” he said. “They did that and came back. We didn’t carry that with us the rest of the game. Offensively, we had a good night.”
Indeed, that Adairsville offense already is gaining an identity as an offensive team this season.
“This is two games in a row we haven’t punted now,” Bishop said Friday night right after the game. “Our punter [Dakota Hines] said this is a great night for everybody but him, but it’s two in a row he hasn’t even stepped on the field. But you’ll take that.”
Bishop noted that while Hines wasn’t punting, he was called on after the team’s touchdowns. “We were 7-of-7 on PATs. We protected our kickers. That’s one thing ... I was concerned with ... being sure we protected our kickers and we did a good job of it.”
MISSING PACKAGE: Closer than they had been all season to scoring a touchdown, the Woodland Wildcats’ 18-play, second-half drive against South Paulding fizzled near the goal line Friday night, and perhaps for reasons more compelling than two 5-yard penalties and another play that lost similar yardage.
Needing just a couple of yards to notch its first trip to the end zone, a depleted Woodland team was without all its necessary components.
“Our injury situation kept us from lining up in a goal-line offense and so we ended up going with a middle-of-the-field offense,” said third-year Wildcats coach Vince DiLorenzo, confirming that fullback/linebacker Isaiah Ross generally would have been used that close to the end zone. “... we had a play called and they called a timeout and knew that we were gonna try to get the ball to either Qua [Stocks] and [Grant] Quick ‘cause those were two of our best players. ... they ended up double covering them, and Mason [Robinson] scrambled and just didn’t quite get it in the end zone.
“We didn’t have our short-yardage package in because [of] the injuries we had; we couldn’t get one together.”
Nevertheless, DiLorenzo acknowledged following the ballgame that neither penalties nor anything else should have prevented Woodland from scoring when it was so close to the goal line.
BEGINNING TO COME TOGETHER: A positive from the Wildcats’ drive that lasted more than 12 minutes was this: midway through the season, Woodland finally appears to have its pieces better aligned for offensive success.
DiLorenzo has been searching for the right mix of players on offense and for someone to assume a playmaker role. With Mason Robinson at quarterback, Quadre Allen and Qua Stocks at running back and Grant Quick and Phelan Philpot at wideout, the Wildcats came alive.
“I think it’s true that we have to get something and start working on it and sticking with it,” DiLorenzo responded when asked if he planned on holding steady with that particular alignment. “And again, if those players are available every week, those are our best weapons.”
The head coach lauded the play of Robinson, who took a two-week reprieve from playing quarterback. The move seemed to work wonders for the senior as Robinson appeared more likely to see a play to its end, going through his progressions and only bailing out of a play call as a last resort.
“Mason, I think, by stepping away from the quarterback position for a couple of weeks came back with a little bit [of a] different perspective, and I think that helped him,” DiLorenzo said. “And I did definitely see some things in him that I think were a result of him stepping back for the last two weeks and letting Tanner [Self] get some quarterback work and Mason at wide receiver.”
Robinson completed 5 of 10 passes for 52 yards and also rushed for 26 yards. After serving as part of a two-quarterback platoon in the first half, Robinson played the entire second half as Woodland’s signal-caller.