Despite that automatic ticket, the Trojans would still rather go in having won a title, as opposed to being the host for another team’s triumph. If Friday’s pool-play results are any indication, then the Trojans may have to defer the crown to North Cobb, one of two teams from the morning session to go undefeated.
The Warriors joined Lovejoy as the only teams to post 5-0 records in the morning’s session at Frank Fillmann Stadium. North Cobb won Pool A with victories over Westminster, Duluth, Kennesaw Mountain, Lassiter and Alpharetta. Lovejoy topped Columbia, Jackson County, Cherokee, North Gwinnett and Walton to win Pool B.
“I’m proud of the way the team competed,” North Cobb coach Shane Queen said. “We kept battling and that was nice to see.”
North Cobb easily took care of Westminster (33-6) and Duluth (30-18) before running into trouble in its final three contests against Kennesaw Mountain, Lassiter and Alpharetta.
The Warriors trailed Kennesaw Mountain 11-2 before mounting a comeback. The cross-town rivals exchanged words after a hard tackle on a North Cobb player sent him to the sidelines with an apparent leg injury.
That play seemed to ignite the Warriors, who rallied to tie the game at 11-all before going on to win 22-13.
During and after the game, the teams continued to rile each other, indicative of their history as rivals.
“That kind of thing is bound to happen between teams that play each other as often as these do,” Queen said. “It was just a bunch of talking, like a spirited debate.”
The Warriors also trailed Lassiter before rallying for a 39-36 win. Trailing 29-22, North Cobb intercepted Eddie Printz, scored a touchdown on its next possession, picked up a defensive stop and scored another touchdown with 28 seconds left to stake a 39-29 advantage.
North Cobb quarterback Tyler Queen connected with wide receiver Xavier Borishade on the Warriors’ final two touchdowns, and Lassiter scored a touchdown on its final possession to make the score close.
North Cobb also ran into trouble against Alpharetta, which took a 19-18 lead with a little over a minute remaining following an interception. A turnover on downs put North Cobb back in front 20-19 with 30 seconds left, and the Warriors held on to remain undefeated.
“We had times when we scored a lot, and our defensive couldn’t make a stop, and vice versa,” Shane Queen said. “But we got it done. Latrelle Gibbs had about four or five picks, so, when the defense needed to hold up, it did.”
North Cobb will be the No. 4 seed today, losing a tiebreaker with the other undefeated teams, Lovejoy and afternoon-session teams Hoover and Hillgrove. The Warriors will open the double-elimination portion of the tournament against the winner of an earlier game between Walton and Lassiter’s JV team.
Lassiter’s primary team finished 4-1 in Pool A, while Kennesaw Mountain went winless.
“I think we played well overall,” said Lassiter coach Jep Irwin, who also used Russell Aarons at quarterback to spell Printz on occasion. “We threw two interceptions against North Cobb, and you can’t do stuff like that in 7-on-7 and expect to win. You can’t do anything like that on Friday nights either and expect to come out on top.
“We’re 4-1 after pool play, so we’ll see where we’re seeded. There are some good teams here.”
Lassiter will be seeded fifth for today’s double-elimination tournament and will face the winner of an earlier game between North Gwinnett and Kennesaw Mountain.
Kennesaw Mountain will be a run-oriented team under new coach Andy Scott, but that didn’t stop him from getting the Mustangs out to participate in the pass-only tournament.
“We’re not a spread team,” said Scott, who utilized Dallin Finley and Nigel Hayes at quarterback. “We used this event to work on our third-and-long and 2-minute offenses. We’re out of our element here, and we knew that. We just want to get our kids out here and see how they compete.”
Walton finished 2-2-1 in Pool B. An interception on the final play sealed the Raiders’ 28-24 victory over Jackson County.
“Overall, I felt like we’re OK,” Walton coach Rocky Hidalgo said. “I felt like we had no energy after that fourth game (a loss to Cherokee), but we finished strong by beating Columbia. We feel like we have two good quarterbacks in Parker McLeod and Price Wilson.”