A Cass defender, Kelin Wells, knocked down two passes.
A Cass receiver, Justin Reed, made several acrobatic catches to keep the chains moving and to start a drive.
A Cass quarterback, Brandon Etheridge, drove his team downfield to score its only touchdown of the game.
An Adairsville player, Dametrices Pitt, knocked down runners and helped his team stymie a first-half drive by Tennessee.
Brock Pyle, the Cass linebacker coach who was on the staff for the 11th annual Tennessee-Georgia All-Star Football Classic, said those were among the good things he saw in the game from the Bartow County players who were selected as all-stars for Team Georgia.
He said the two teams were evenly matched in the first half, walking into the halftime break tied at 7-all. However Tennessee ran away in the contest in the second half, winning 45-7, with four of those touchdowns coming in the fourth quarter.
Pyle said the game outcome was disappointing, but the Bartow County players played well and that’s a good reflection on them and the schools where they played football.
“Ultimately, with the amount of talent at the game, our kids were in the top tier,” he said. “You can’t compare running back to quarterback or safeties, but the Bartow players were very impressive in how they carried themselves. They represented Bartow County well.”
Pyle said Reed used his skills as a wide receiver to make some memorable catches.
“He played wide receiver for Team Georgia and because of his athleticism and his ability to make a play, he had two or three very impressive catches. He also had an opportunity at a deep pass but it got batted away.”
The coach said one of Reed’s catches, on a third-and-long, helped Georgia move the chains and keep a drive alive.
“The pass came over his back shoulder as he was running down the sideline,” Pyle said. “Somehow he caught the pass and didn’t fall out of bounds. It was an acrobatic catch.
“He made two nice over-the-back-shoulder catches for Team Georgia.”
Wells was selected as an alternate, Pyle said, but once he got on board, he came on strong on the practice field and made his presence felt.
“He made a pretty big impact and played corner and safety for us,” Pyle said. “He was able to knock down two or three passes during the game and he also was right there when that fumble was recovered by Jessie House.
“He was pretty much all over the field for us and played most of the evening.”
Pyle said one of the treats of the game for him was to see Etheridge playing quarterback after his year layoff.
“Brandon was a bit rusty, but he still threw some very nice balls,” the coach said. “He was able to scramble and made himself look very athletic.
“He was the leader when Team Georgia took the ball downfield about 80 yards and scored.”
The team scored when Noah Cooper capped the drive with a 1-yard run.
Pyle said Etheridge looked very keyed up once he got on the field.
“He seemed very enthusiastic once he got back in pads,” he said. “It was a good thing to see him. Seeing him play was pretty cool.”
Pyle said Pitts also played well for Team Georgia.
He said Pitt was one of the keys to his team standing toe-to-toe with Team Tennessee in the first half.
“He did a good job for us, made a few tackles and was instrumental in us stopping Team Tennessee in the first half,” he said. “He kept getting stops and trying to get them to turn the ball over.”
House got a key fumble recovery in the first half for Team Georgia.
“House made some good tackles for us,” Pyle said. “He has a motor that never quits. That’s something I noticed about him at Adairsville when I coached there. It’s something you look forward to in a kid.
“He was all over the field.”
A lesson on rivals
Pyle said he was pleased with the contributions by the Bartow players at the game and felt they got something in return for their play.
“They get some publicity and people they knew got to see them play one last time before they go on to their next venture in life,” he said.
He said he also feels they got a chance to see old rivals in a different light.
“They got to meet people they once played against and got to know them. It helps them see how they are similar to those old rivals and how they are different and just try to understand what’s in the past is in the past.
“They got an opportunity to meet players from Gilmer County, Dalton and other places where they’d once been rivals,” he added. “They got a chance to know them and, hopefully, create some friendships.”
Pyle, who is in his second year as a Cass coach, is a graduate of Adairsville High and played in the all-star game himself in 2005.
Pyle also coached at Adairsville just prior to assuming his duties as Cass High.