Cartersville led the way with their second consecutive undefeated season while Adairsville also qualified for the playoffs as a three-seed.
For Cass and Woodland, the season comes to a close with each team finishing 4-6.
Cartersville looks to make deep playoff run — Although undoubtedly thought of by Cartersville football fans, it was rarely spoken of by head coach Frank Barden: the goal for the Cartersville football team is to win a state championship.
Barden had discussed all season how his team needs to get better each week, in practice and in games, as it was no secret that the Cartersville football team’s talent level far exceeded that of each opponent throughout the regular season.
However, now that the regular season is over and the Canes were a perfect 10-0, the emphasis of getting better each week is replaced by the emphasis of winning each ballgame and advancing to the next round.
There is no question the Canes have a state championship in mind. They are the No. 2-ranked team in AAA and even quarterback Brooks Barden made mention of it after Friday’s victory over Ringgold.
“We’re just ready to go five more games and bring it home,” Barden said after Friday’s victory.
Whether this Cartersville team will replicate what the ’91 and ’99 state championship teams were able to do remains to be seen.
However, it is safe to say they did all they could in the regular season to look the part.
The Canes averaged 48.7 points per game, while allowing just 8.6. They also averaged 430 yards of offense, despite resting starters during the second half of several games.
Their speed on defense was debilitating to offenses who rarely could advance more than a few yards before being tracked down. Their multiple weapons on offense left opponents with no decent strategy to contain them.
Still, the road to the Georgia Dome will not be one without obstacles. The team that knocked Cartersville out of the 2012 state playoffs, Buford, also went undefeated during the regular season and is ranked No. 1 in AAA.
The Canes would once again match up with Burford in the semifinals if each team wins three games.
Meanwhile, undefeated No. 3-ranked Washington County sits on the other half of the bracket.
But first, Cartersville has to play West Hall, who went 4-3 in Region 7-AAA. If the Canes defeat West Hall, they will be matched up with the winner of the Hart County-St. Pius game. St. Pius went 4-2 in region 6-AAA, while Hart County was very impressive while accumulating a 6-1 record in Region 8-AAA.
Although Cartersville could not have done much more in the regular season, the Canes will have to play even better if they want to advance as far as the 2012 team did, let alone reach the same heights as the teams of ’91 and ’99.
Tigers prepare for playoffs — The Adairsville football team posted an impressive 7-3 record during the regular season.
However, all regular season successes and failures are irrelevant when the Tigers match up against White County in Cleveland on Friday.
As a result of their third-place finish, the Tigers will go on the road.
Having to play on the road is not a death sentence for Adairsville. In fact, the Tigers won their road matchup with Banks County in the first round of the state playoffs in 2011. Last season, Adairsville hosted Hart County, but was unable to pull off the win.
Whether Adairsville wins or loses, the football program has now made three consecutive playoff appearances, the longest active streak in Bartow, after a seven-year absence from postseason play.
If the Tigers hope to advance in the playoffs, they will likely need to win a close game by playing well down the stretch, something they haven’t had to do so far. Their average margin of victory during the seven wins was over 27 points, with the closest coming in a 10-point win at home against North Murray. Even in that game, Adairsville was in control throughout the contest.
Adairsville is likely to see a close contest against White County and one factor that may determine how far the Tigers can go is whether Marcus Childers can take the next step as a passer and lead his team on a game-winning drive if need be.
Childers, Sidnee Johnson and Tristin Smith have led a dynamic rushing attack this year, but on Friday, the passing game came along as well. Childers went 8-for-12 passing for 156 yards and three touchdowns against Coahulla Creek.
What could have been? — Woodland started the season 0-6 and it seemed unimaginable that the Wildcats’ 2013 football season would become anything other than an unpleasant memory.
However, after four consecutive wins to close out the season, Woodland’s year will be looked upon positively, despite falling short of the playoffs.
Head coach Vince DiLorenzo and his players could have packed it in at the midpoint of the season like many teams would have. Instead, the team rallied to win its last four games.
After failing to score a touchdown in the first six games, DiLorenzo adjusted the lineup, putting Isaiah Ross and Quadre Allen in the backfield, despite their prominent roles on the defensive side of the ball. He also changed the team’s offensive identity from a pass-first offense to a primarily running offense. During an early season loss to Allatoona, Woodland threw the ball 25 times to just 13 rushing attempts. During the Nov. 1 game against Hiram, the Wildcats ran the ball 37 times and passed just five.
The change in identity was the primary reason Woodland turned its season around, and it begs the question, how many wins would Woodland have had if it started the season with its run-first mentality?
The truth is, based on win-loss records, Woodland lost to the top six teams in Region 5-AAAAA and beat the lesser of the four opponents in the region. It just so happens that the top six teams were the first six opponents on Woodland’s schedule. The “new-look” Wildcats would have had to play better than they had all season to beat Villa Rica or New Manchester, even with the identity change.
Still, Woodland fans can be proud of the team’s turnaround and resiliency the Wildcats showed in winning their last four games.
4-6 looks much better than 0-6, especially in a loaded region.
Farewell seniors — Friday’s game was the last for the Cass seniors and it would be safe to say they went out on a high note.
Senior running back Chaz Rokins raised his level of play and became Cass’ main source of offense. He ran the ball 12 times for 159 yards and two touchdowns.
Senior defensive back Kelin Wells also had a touchdown run and recorded 31 yards rushing on the game. However, his biggest impact on the game came on the defensive side of the ball. He had a pick-six in the fourth quarter which he returned roughly 65 yards for the touchdown. In addition to the interception, he batted down three passes from his defensive back position.
Fellow senior Montavius Parker had himself a game as well, recording seven tackles including two sacks.
Justin Reed also had a sack in which he teamed up with his younger brother, Jordan “Boo” Reed. Justin also forced a fumble in the game and even contributed on offense with 11 yards rushing.
The seniors who made the biggest impact also happened to be the biggest players on the field. Senior offensive linemen Drake Eddy, Mason Scarborough, Alex Yauslin, Lucas Johnson and Joe Wood all drew acclaim from both head coach Rick Casko and leading rusher Rokins after the game.
All in all, it was an excellent final game for the class of 2014.
“I feel like everybody is more confident and more mature,” Rokins said about the group of players taking part in their last game. “This is a moment we will be able to tell our kids about one day.”