UNNECESSARY ROUGHNESS — A matchup between Adairsville and Rockmart with major Region 6-AAA playoff implications got out of control in the second half after — in more ways than one.
On the field, the Yellow Jackets turned a game that was scoreless after one quarter into a second-half rout in an eventual 45-7 win. Off the field, things got even more out of hand, as punches were thrown in a fight reported by WBHF.
According to a post on the station’s website, there was an altercation involving “current and past football players.” The report indicated there were no injuries, outside of “black eyes.”
Adairsville athletic director Meredith Barnhill gave a statement to WBHF.
“It looks like we had some kids from both schools, current students [and] former students from both schools that just got a little mouthy with each other,” Barnhill said in a clip posted to the station’s website. “Some punches were thrown. Officers got to it pretty quickly; we got it broken up pretty quick.
“Right now, we’re just kind of looking into see who was involved, what happened and we will just kind of go from there as the investigation continues.”
PLAYOFF QUESTION MARKS — Cartersville secured a postseason berth with its win over Woodland. The Canes stayed unbeaten in Region 7-AAAAA with the victory. They could end the season with a zero in the region loss column and still not finish as the No. 1 seed.
That’s because it’s looking as though Cartersville’s region game against Blessed Trinity will go down as a forfeit for purposes of determining the league’s playoff participants. The Canes decided to cancel their scheduled Oct. 30 meeting with the Titans due to CHS experiencing a large number of students in COVID-19 quarantine.
Given the impact of the coronavirus across the state, the GHSA is not forcing official forfeits to be made in cases of COVID-related cancellations. However, the governing body is allowing individual regions to make their own decisions to determine their league standings.
The main thing standing between a Cartersville-Blessed Trinity rescheduling is that the Titans already have a makeup game set against another Bartow County team. At the beginning of the year, every program in the six-team region had an open date the final week of the season.
When Woodland had to call off its region opener with Blessed Trinity, the Wildcats and Titans moved their matchup to Nov. 20. That leaves no opening on the schedule — other than a possible midweek date — for the Canes to make up their game.
Earlier this week, Cartersville athletic director Darrell Demastus acknowledged in a text message that rescheduling the game was “probably not going to happen.” Demastus also confirmed that the region rules would, essentially, stick the Canes with a loss, meaning their matchup with the Yellow Jackets would likely determine the No. 2 seed in the region.
Following Friday’s win, Cartersville head coach Conor Foster left open the possibility of making up the Blessed Trinity game.
"We don't know yet," he said of the game’s status. "We'll see how next week shakes out and everybody's in. ADs will get in there and discuss that. It's something we can't control right now. We're just focused on getting better every day.
“If and when that time comes, great. If not, we'll move on and get ready for the playoffs."
QB CAROUSEL — Quarterback is one of the most irreplaceable positions in sports. Just look at how the Dallas Cowboys have done since Dak Prescott suffered a season-ending injury.
In close games, most teams will play one quarterback the entire way. Sometimes teams run out backups for various reasons — particularly in games that are lopsided, one way or the other.
Even still, Friday’s Cartersville-Woodland matchup featured an absurd seven different quarterbacks taking snaps between the two teams.
Woodland played three different QBs — senior Johnathan Thomas, sophomore Chase Carson and freshman Brelace Williams. Thomas started Friday after missing essentially six full quarters with an injury. He clearly wasn’t back to 100%, though, allowing for Carson, who led the Wildcats in last week’s loss to Calhoun, and Williams to earn more reps.
"J.T. went through warmups and he said he felt fine, so we wanted to see what he could do," Woodland head coach Tony Plott said after the game. "We had Chase, who has backed him up in the past, and we used him some.
“We had a freshman quarterback that we wanted to get some reps also. He deserves them. He comes in every day and works real hard. The game's important to him, so you want to reward a guy like that."
On the other side, Cartersville ran its offense through seniors Stratton Tripp and Carlos Del Rio-Wilson. It marked the third consecutive game of the Canes using a two-quarterback system since Del Rio-Wilson joined the program.
Both have performed well in the setup, although Del Rio-Wilson had the better night Friday. Cartersville’s overall performance, which included a 35-0 halftime lead, allowed for junior Jake Parker and sophomore Paul Gamble to see some time in the second half.
Even still, Tripp and Del Rio-Wilson will assume the vast majority of the snaps the remainder of the season. After somewhat alternating possessions throughout the previous two games, the pair wound up switching back and forth within individual series in Friday’s contest, offering up a new wrinkle opponents will have to contend with.
"We want to play to both of their strengths," Canes head coach Conor Foster said. "We're going to rotate them both in and put pressure on defenses to prepare for different looks with different guys. Both of them make us better, and both of them put a ton of pressure on the defense. Both are going to continue to play a ton.
"I'm just excited and proud of how our team has embraced the situation, how those two young men have embraced the situation and made us a better football team."
NARROWING RACE — The Region 6-AAA playoff chase is officially down to five teams.
This weekend proved massively impactful in the region, as two more teams were eliminated and an upset could wind up deciding the league’s playoff qualifiers.
Coahulla Creek defeated Lakeview-Fort Oglethorpe Tuesday to eliminate the Warriors from postseason contention. A similar scenario played out Friday, when North Murray officially knocked its rival, Murray County, out of the playoff race.
Friday also offered up a major upset. Previously winless Sonoraville, which suffered a 32-0 loss to Adairsville the previous week, downed LaFayette.
The result set up a three-way tie for third place between LaFayette; Adairsville, which lost to Rockmart Friday; and Ringgold, which defeated Coahulla Creek Saturday. All three teams sit at 4-2 in the region with two weeks remaining in the regular season.
With trips to region leader Rockmart (6-0 in region) and second-place North Murray (5-1) left on the schedule, LaFayette undoubtedly have the toughest final stretch out of the three. Adairsville hosts North Murray before heading to LFO. Meanwhile, Ringgold travels to Sonoraville and welcomes Rockmart, respectively, over the next two weeks.
On paper, Adairsville appears headed for the region’s No. 4 seed, as Ringgold would land the third spot based on the head-to-head tiebreaker. Then again, Adairsville head coach Eric Bishop noted after Friday’s game the propensity for upsets in the region.
“I’m not sure what has happened around the region tonight but crazy things can happen,” Bishop said, clearly unaware of the LaFayette upset, “and they probably will in this year of 2020.”