For what seemed like an eternity, the football hung up in the air as every Cartersville fan sat on the edge of the Weinman Stadium seats.
The kick missed wide left and Cartersville survived to win 28-26, but it was not the convincing victory some may have expected from a team that went undefeated during the regular season and won its games by an average of 40 points.
Despite the near upset, Cartersville head coach Frank Barden is not concerned with style points and is pleased just to come away with the win.
“Of course we were excited to move on. That’s the name of the game, survive and advance, and we survived,” Barden said. “I kind of was just watching the referee on that side because I knew it was really close to that pole. I just watched him and watched his reaction the entire time and, when he signaled it was no good, then obviously you’re pretty happy to move on.
“It’s kind of like these other games that you watch every week in college and pros.”
Barden is not surprised West Hall gave the Canes all they could handle in the first round. Despite coming into the postseason as a 4-seed, he knew the Spartans would present a challenge.
“I think they’re a good football team; I thought that all week,” Barden said of the Spartans. “They have a kid who’s going to go somewhere to play on Saturdays. [Hunter Atkinson] is an awesome player. They have some good skill players and they’re a good football team and we knew it coming in.”
Barden was happy with his team’s performances in some areas and less so in others, like any coach after a game. However, he also believes the close call against West Hall may benefit his team when St. Pius comes to Cartersville on Friday.
“I think it can help us,” Barden said. “Obviously, the reality of the playoffs is, you win, you move on. You lose, you go home. To be that close to the season ending, hopefully, our kids come back focused and excited about going to practice.”