Adairsville, which plays in Region 6-AAA, opened its season last week with a 28-14 victory over Ridgeland.
Vince DiLorenzo, head coach at Woodland, which plays in Region 7-AAAAA, said it was a great start to Adairsville’s season. “Having won the way they did, coming from behind, I’m sure Adairsville will be playing with a lot of confidence. Coach [Eric] Bishop does a good job, as do all his coaches, and Adairsville is very well coached.”
DiLorenzo said Adairsville has a lot of talent.
“When you compare athletes, the number of players they have to what we have, we’re very similar,” DiLorenzo said. “There’s not a disparity in size and I don’t think there’s a disparity in skill level. This is really a pretty even matchup. It’s a game we know we have to play at a high level. We have to play with emotion. Woodland has to play everyone this season with emotion for us to have a chance to be successful.”
He said Adairsville has a lot of skill players, starting with its quarterback, Marcus Childers.
“In scouting Adairsville and talking to coaches who’ve played them, every coach has talked about [Childers], a four-year starter, being a great athlete,” he said. “They have a lot of other skill players. Their offensive line also is much bigger than we are.”
Childers is off to a good start as a senior. He revved up his offense in the second half to help Adairsville overpower Ridgeland. He went 6-for-6 for 58 yards and ran seven times for 57 yards, including a 10-yard touchdown run.
Sidnee Johnson, the Tigers’ speedy pistol back, was a workhorse against Ridgeland, running for 116 yards on 13 carries. Six runs went for first downs and his 30-yard run set up a Childers’ touchdown for the team’s last score of the night.
Jayson Cantrell, junior slotback, ran for 51 yards and a touchdown on two carries.
Just as important to Adairsville was the performance of safety DeAndre Applin, who registered eight tackles in the first half, five in the first half on third or fourth downs. Applin also forced a fumble on Ridgeland’s first possession.
The Tigers also got solid performances from others and looked like a team clicking on a lot of its cylinders and capable of making adjustments on the fly.
DiLorenzo expects tough play all over the field but said his team looks forward to the challenge. “It’s always exciting to start a new season when you’ve worked as hard as our players have been starting in January. Like most players, ours are ready to start hitting someone in another uniform. It’s also time for us to get an idea of who [we] are and who [our] key players are going to be.”
He said playing a Bartow school makes it even more fun and will let him see Adairsville from the sidelines the first time.
“I’ve been here four years and I’ve never played them,” he said. “I’m glad the way the scheduling was done because it allowed us to pick up Adairsville. Really, coach Bishop made this possible because he was glad to play us even though they are a couple of classifications below us. He knows we both need a good gate to support our local programs. Anytime you play someone local, there’s more interest from the fans of each of your schools. It makes it interesting as a game and it also gives your players something to work for. It’s an immediate big game for both teams. I know we certainly had no lack of motivation knowing we would play them this soon in the season.”
He said Adairsville is a quality opponent that has enjoyed success in the postseason, something his team wants to emulate.
“Adairsville was 7-4 last year and went to the playoffs,” he said. “They also had been to the playoffs when coach Jim Kremer was there. They are used to playing after the 10th game of the season. We are trying to get to the 11th game in our season.”
DiLorenzo noted Woodland has been preparing for Adairsville since playing Cartersville in a scrimmage on Aug. 15.
“The scrimmage showed show us a lot of things we needed to work on and it also put a sense of urgency in our effort,” he said. “The scrimmage was a great teaching tool. We learned a lot of things against Cartersville that will help us down the road. The film of our defense helped us make some changes.”
He said Woodland will be learning all season.
“Cartersville was a great learning experience, and we feel Adairsville will make a great learning experience for us, too,” he said. “We all realize this is a big game for us, and we also know it’s a long season. Our goal is to get better every game and we will use this game to help us do that.
“On Friday night, we plan to go out and play four quarters of football as well as we can and, if necessary, play a fifth quarter.”
Kickoff is at 7:30 p.m. for the two teams.