With five region games remaining, Adairsville will likely need to win four to ensure themselves a spot in the state playoffs and to give them a chance at hosting a playoff game.
The road to accomplishing those goals starts today for the Tigers as they welcome North Murray to Tiger Stadium for a region-tilt against the 1-4 Mountaineers.
Adairsville is coming off a disappointing loss to one of its primary region rivals, Ringgold. The team will be looking to respond to the loss positively, as well as put on a show for the crowd on homecoming night.
“I think they’re anxious to get back out there and get a win, continue to be in the hunt for a playoff position, and get a win at home for homecoming,” head coach Eric Bishop said of his team.
The Tigers have been successful at home this season, coming into today’s matchup 2-0. They have outscored opponents Pepperell and Lakeview-Fort Oglethorpe, 33-10 and 49-0, respectively.
Meanwhile, North Murray has struggled in 2013. Cartersville defeated the Mountaineers 55-15. North Murray is also coming off a 38-35 loss to Sonoraville.
“The best way to describe them is they’re all over the place on offense and defense. They have lined up in four different base defenses. They kind of seem like they’re searching for an identity there,” Bishop said of North Murray. “On offense, they’ll be spread, no backs on one drive and then the next drive they will be in the Maryland-I with three backs. They’re very multiple in what they do. It will require us to apply our rules of alignment and assignment. Formation recognition will be a big thing.”
The game against LFO on Sept. 20 was similar in that LFO also employed a mix of offensive looks. Adairsville defeated LFO 49-0, but any team that can do many things requires plenty of preparation in practice.
“What we see is them trying to create a great deal of confusion in their opponent and that’s what we’ve been working on this week,” Bishop said. “It’s just a matter of recognizing the alignment and executing assignments.”
In the second half of the season, the playoff race will start to heat up. Bishop believes his team cannot get wrapped up in the race and has to just focus on one game at a time.
“We try to always say the next one is the most important one,” Bishop said. “It’s important that we not get caught up in too much stuff that really has very little importance to affect the outcome. We just try to play the best game we can and try to get a win. To get into the playoff picture in the second half, the next one is always the most important one.”
The playoff situation is a big picture goal, but as always, short-term roadblocks such as injuries will come out along the way. This week, Adairsville is dealing with an injury to Dametrices Pitt, the team’s nose guard. Pitt suffered a high ankle sprain last week against Ringgold and his presence inside may be missed tonight.
“I’d say we’re healthier than we have been. We have three kids off the injury list and added one with Dametrices,” Bishop said Wednesday. “Whether he’ll play or not is probably going to be a game-day decision. He’s doing his rehab and trying to get it where he wants it. He can walk and his mobility is pretty decent. It’s just trying to push off and go full speed that is still pretty difficult for him.”
Whether or not Pitt plays, Adairsville would still like to win to move up in the playoff picture. A win would put the Tigers at 2-1 in the region.