The Canes will put their 15-game regular season win streak on the line and try to continue their winning ways against Lakeview-Fort Oglethorpe on the road today.
“We just want to improve on some of the things we’ve been doing in practice and keep getting better each week,” Cartersville head coach Frank Barden said of his goals for the game.
LFO is 2-3 in 2013 and are 1-1 in the region. Adairsville defeated LFO 49-0 and chances are Cartersville will look for a similar outcome today.
“They are a very multiple offense. We played them down here last year and their offense will challenge you to be disciplined and very, very assignment-oriented with their positions,” Barden said of LFO. “There is a lot of shift in their formations and they’ll stretch you on defense. We spent a lot of time on that this week. Bottom line, it boils down to how well you prepare and our defensive staff does a great job of putting the kids in a position to be successful.”
Barden believes his team has what it takes to be prepared for LFO.
“Our kids do a great job of really working and trying to learn,” Barden said. “We’ll make some mistakes, but hopefully we’ll be able to go up there and play hard. Ninety percent of the battle is that you play hard. If we can know what we’re doing as far as our assignments, then we will be OK.”
The game will likely offer the Canes another chance to rest players and to see some younger players in game action. Each of Cartersville’s previous five games have seen the second unit get valuable playing time.
One player who will not be playing is Cartersville tailback Brandon Long. Long got hurt on the second play of the game last week against Coahulla Creek.
In the first four games, Long had 347 yards on 38 carries and six touchdowns.
“It’ll be interesting because we’ll be without Brandon,” Barden said of how his team plays without its senior tailback. “He did get injured last week and we don’t know how long he’ll be out. We’re still waiting to see where he is at. It’ll be interesting to see how well we execute, offensively, without him. He’s big in, not only our running game, but our passing game as well, receiving and in protection.”
Kalin Heath and Tiamon Pennymon are capable backs and will be looked upon to fill the void. Heath has 204 yards rushing on the season on 19 carries for an impressive 10.74 yards per carry.
The junior also has two touchdowns rushing.
Pennymon is a sophomore and only has five carries on the year. However, he has been productive in those attempts. He is averaging 10 yards per carry and has two touchdowns in those five attempts.
One area Barden has felt his team has improved the most in since the season began is on the offensive side of the ball.
“No question, we are way better offensively than we were at the beginning of the year,” Barden said. “I think our offensive line is way better. I think the chemistry of the whole team is better. Defensively, we are playing with a little more experience and knowledge of what our assignments are. I think we’ve improved where we want to improve a whole lot more, but yeah, we’re way better than we were at the beginning of the year.”
After the Coahulla Creek game, Barden felt like his team had not improved as much as he wanted to and that the team was inconsistent. After watching film, he feels better about his team’s performance.
“We went back and watched the film and it wasn’t that bad. I don’t care who’s in and what part of the game, I want us to play at a certain level. There were times that I thought we played really, really well and I thought there were times when we might have some lax moments, but it was 16-, 17-year old kids and it was homecoming,” Barden said. “That’s the things that we control. If that’s something you control, that’s something you need to get better. That’s going to be big, just consistency and keep getting better.”
As is usually the case with Cartersville, the team is just looking to prepare itself for more significant games down the road.