Coming off back-to-back wins against Paulding County and Lithia Springs, Woodland has scored 43 total points.
Not surprisingly, the Wildcats’ newfound offensive mojo has been spearheaded by a player who has long led the way for the Region 5-AAAAA team on the other side of the ball.
“The running game … got better when Isaiah Ross was able to play ‘F,’” acknowledged Woodland coach Vince DiLorenzo, whose team rushed for 187 yards Friday in their 21-12 victory at Lithia Springs. Ross, who had nine carries, accounted for 43 of his team’s rushing yards and also scored a touchdown.
Prior to the Wildcats’ game against North Paulding on Sept. 27, Ross had yet to assume feature-back status — which he shares with Quadre Allen — but in that loss to the Wolfpack, the senior linebacker/running back ran the ball 13 times for 52 yards.
Two weeks later, after their first bye, Ross rushed 15 times for 101 yards and a touchdown as Woodland won for the first time, 22-14, against Paulding County.
“We were desperate,” DiLorenzo said of the decision to move Ross to offense full time. “Isaiah Ross was kind of untouchable because he was a defensive player, and moving Isaiah to ‘F’ and him being in shape enough to go both ways is what has energized the offense. And it’s energized the offensive line; it’s energized Mason [Robinson]; it’s energized Quadre.”
The third-year Wildcats coach heaped praise on Ross for his 18-yard TD run, a play that summed up the kind of tough yardage Woodland is now able to gain with him in the backfield.
“That run he made tonight for a touchdown … he must’ve broke 11 tackles,” added DiLorenzo of Ross’s score, which included a couple of spins that enabled him to sling some defenders off of him.
The Wildcats (2-6) aim to keep their offensive success going Nov. 1 when they host Hiram (1-6). Woodland closes out the season against Rome (4-3), a game that also will be played at Wildcat Stadium.
“We’re off next week, so we’re gonna start working on Hiram,” said DiLorenzo, whose team began the season week earlier than most and thus gets an additional bye week. “That happens to be homecoming just because that was the only time we can do it. We play our last two games at home. … I hope that our players seize this opportunity to end the season in front of our fans on a great note. Homecoing is always a big deal. It’s always distractions, but hopefully we’ll focus on Hiram and our goal of winning the next game.”