The Warriors come into the matchup having scored 532 points on the season — a total that trails only the 2009 Lassiter team led by record-setting quarterback Hutson Mason (533 points), and the 1966 Lemon Street team that went on to win the Georgia Interscholastic Association state championship.
Led by quarterback Tyler Queen, receivers Xavier Borishade and Nick Miller and running back J’Vonte Herrod, North Cobb has scored 40 or more points in 10 of its 13 games this season, including 42 in each of its three playoff victories. Maybe the more impressive note is that the lowest point total for the Warriors was 26 — in a one-point loss to South Cobb in early October.
The team just finds ways to score points.
“It’s not just the offense,” North Cobb coach Shane Queen said. “There are so many things that go into it. The defense has done a great job getting us two or three extra possessions a game, and our kicker puts the ball in the end zone 90-percent of the time, which makes the other team have a long field.”
The Warriors’ defense and special teams have not only helped the offense, but they’ve done their share of the scoring, too. Those units have combined to score 12 touchdowns — five interception returns, four fumble returns and three kick returns.
It’s a big reason why North Cobb has averaged 40.9 points a game — currently fourth-best in county history, behind the record-setting 45-point pace set by Lemon Street — Marietta’s school for black students, which operated before the integration of local schools — in 1962.
It would be hard to compare the 2012 Warriors with any of the teams from Lemon Street as it is hard to gauge what kind of competition the Hornets had to face. In 1962, Lemon Street posted eight shutouts and had games where it scored 81, 68 and 62 points.
Four years later, the Hornets opened the season with a county record for points in game, beating Lynwood Park 104-6. They also added 72- and 67-point games later in the season.
A better comparison for this year’s North Cobb team would be Lassiter’s team from three years ago. Walton had the opportunity to face both teams, and Raiders coach Rocky Hidalgo said that, of the two, the Warriors have more weapons to make plays.
“North Cobb is the more complete offense, including running backs, wide receivers and offensive line,” he said.
When Hidalgo thinks of that Lassiter team, it’s all about Mason, who is now backing up Aaron Murray at Georgia. That season, Mason was the state’s Mr. Football, setting single-season state records of 4,560 passing yards and 54 touchdowns.
“(Lassiter) had some very good players,” Hidalgo said, “but they had such a good component in Hutson Mason, who is the best quarterback I’ve ever coached against. He was virtually impossible to stop.”
One thing all the most recent high-scoring teams seem to have in common is quality quarterback play.
McEachern averaged 40.2 points a game in 1986 and was led by all-state quarterback Kevan Espy. In 1990, Eric Zeier led a Marietta offense that averaged 40.6 points a game.
In 2009, McEachern averaged 40.6 points behind the quarterback combo of Dondre Purnell and Trent Thompson and running back Rajaan Bennett, the Class AAAAA Offensive Player of the Year.
Unfortunately, another thing the teams have in common is they bowed out of the playoffs without winning a state title.
None of those teams played more than 13 games — a trend North Cobb has already broken with Friday marking game No. 14.
Hidalgo said, if things fall right, he can see the Warriors playing in a 15th.
“(Their offense has) a lot of moving parts,” he said. “They have play-making ability and can play with anybody in the state.
“Tyler (Queen) is a really good passer, but his running ability is what sets him apart. When they really need a play, he makes a play.”