Last year: Allatoona 28, South Paulding 14
All-time series: South Paulding leads 2-1
Prediction: Allatoona 31, South Paulding 17
After dominating its first four opponents this season, Allatoona expects to get its first real test Friday in a Region 5AAAAA game at South Paulding.
The Buccaneers have shut out three of their first four opponents (Woodland-Bartow, Paulding County, Rome and Lithia Springs) but the four teams have a combined record of 2-14 record.
“The defense has done a great job with so many new starters, but I think some of the teams we’ve played have had trouble with offense this year,” Allatoona coach Gary Varner said. “This is, by far, the best offense we will face. We will get a real good indication of where we stand and how much further we have to go coming off of this week.”
In three games the Spartans’ offense has been potent, scoring an average of 49 points a game.
“I think it’s going to be a really good game,” Varner said. “They are very good offensively. They got a really good quarterback who is playing really well.”
Kennesaw State commitment Chandler Burks, who has passed for 811 yards and eight touchdowns, and run for 361 yards and six touchdowns this season.
Meanwhile, Allatoona is averaging 46 points a game and running back Joshua Bettistea has 662 rushing yards and 10 touchdowns.
“Even though it’s still early, this is a big game in the region,” said Varner, whose team plays all region games.
After undergoing spinal surgery in August, South Paulding coach Ed Koester will also be making his home debut.
“His kids will probably have a little bit of energy for a little bit,” Varner said.
— By Maurice Dixon
MDJ Sports Writer
Game: Kell (4-0) at North Springs (1-2), 7:30 p.m.
Last year: Kell 48, North Springs 0
All-time series: Kell leads 1-0
Prediction: Kell 35, North Springs 0
Fourth-ranked Kell has a great shot at defending its Region 7AAAAA title and are heavily favored to beat North Springs, which won its first game last week since the 2009 season.
Kell (4-0) has been perfect so far and much of that is credited to its defense. Its defensive starters shut out Woodstock and Creekview, and Chattahoochee scored one touchdown and a couple of field goals.
It starts at the defensive line where the Longhorns already have 12 ½ sacks after four games. Ethan Elliott leads the way with six and Austin Meault has five. They also have nine interceptions with Taylor Henkle, Jay Moxey Bryson Armstrong having two apiece. Keith Hampton anchors the linebacking unit with 56 tackles.
“The defensive line is getting a good rush and we can leave the guys in the back to cover up,” Kell coach Derek Cook said. “Our front is doing a great job.”
With a new defensive coordinator in Joe Tousignaut came a different philosophy. Kell is now running a more base defense with a four-man front and three linebackers. Cook said there’s not much trickery involved.
“We’re going to sit on the base until someone challenges it,” Cook said. “Everyone’s been doing their job individually and we don’t have a gap left open.”
Kell’s only challenge defensively came against Lassiter when the Trojans made a fourth-quarter comeback attempt by scoring 10 unanswered fourth quarter points to trim Kell’s lead by a touchdown. But Kell scored late to get separation and Moxey had his second interception of the game late in the fourth to seal it.
— By Adam Carrington
Game: Pope (1-3) at Cambridge (0-3), 7:30 p.m.
Last year: Pope 49, Cambridge 7
All-time series: Pope leads 1-0
Prediction: Pope 31, Cambridge 10
After earning its first win of the season last week, Pope will take its improved rushing game to Milton on Friday to face Cambridge in a Region 7AAAAA crossover game.
“It was a huge win for the kids, the team, and the overall program,” Pope coach Matt Kemper said about last Friday’s win over Northview. “It has made preparations for the Cambridge game a lot easier because it was tenser here before the victory.”
Pope’s Logan Carr showed offensive versatility, accounting for three touchdowns — one rushing, two receiving — and had 93 total yards on 15 total touches.
“We knew that our offensive line would have to carry us for the early part of the season,” Kemper said. “We’ve been able to use multiple guys such as (quarterback) Taylor (Wolf) and Logan to build our rushing attack.”
Cambridge (0-3), a second-year program, lost to Osborne 5-0 last Friday, and has been outscored 73-35 though three games.
“Cambridge is a young program with kids that play hard and with enthusiasm,” Kemper said. “It runs a spread offense with some zone read and has an unorthodox defense using lots of blitzes. We’ll have to execute well to win.”
— By Marcel Pourtout
MDJ Sports Writer
Game: Osborne (2-2) at Creekview (0-3), 7:30 p.m.
Last year: Creekview 31, Osborne 0
All-time series: Creekview leads 1-0
Prediction: Creekview 28, Osborne 14
Osborne scored five points in its victory over Cambridge last week. Creekview totaled seven points in its loss to Kell.
Both team will attempt to get their offenses in gear Friday when the Cardinals face off against the Grizzlies in a Region 7AAAAA crossover at the Grizzly Den.
Osborne’s struggles to find the end zone continued last week with its win over Cambridge, and coach Xarvia Smith doesn’t want to see his new spread offense get into a habit of struggling to score.
“We continue to have a problem scoring in the red zone,” Smith said. “We were inside (Cambridge’s) 10-yard line five times and only scored three points. That can’t happen if you want to consistently win ballgames.
“We have to work on that. That’s been our problem all year. We move the ball well down field, but when we get close to the goal line, we’re having problems punching it in.”
Smith said he changed his approach in practice to help better prepare his players for those situations, should they encounter them at Creekview.
“I think we’re going to go more live in the red-zone area in practice this week, putting our best against our best,” he said. “We need better preparation in that area, so, hopefully, this will help. Maybe work on trying to get the ball on the edge and tweaking our personnel. We just have to have more production from our offense near the goal line.”
— By Carlton D. White
Game: Sprayberry (1-3) at Sequoyah (2-1), 7:30 p.m.
Last year: Sequoyah 42, Sprayberry 14
All-time series: Sequoyah leads 5-2
Prediction: Sequoyah 35, Sprayberry 21
Self-inflicted wounds don’t make it easy to succeed.
This week, Sequoyah coach James Teter and his Sprayberry counterpart, Billy Shackelford, were both stressing that lesson to their players as they prepared to meet Friday night at Skip Pope Stadium.
Shackelford said that four games into the season, his Yellow Jackets (1-3) aren’t where he would like them to be, but they’re at least moving in the right direction.
“I have seen us make steps in the right direction each week, but we aren’t where we need to be this year,” he said. “It’s a never-ending process. I don’t think any coach in the country is pleased with where his team is, and I’m no exception. We have to get better, but I will never be satisfied with where we are at.”
Sprayberry beat Forsyth Central a week ago for its first win of the season. After turning the ball over a combined 10 times in their first two games, the Yellow Jackets cut that number to one in their last two. The result was an 18-point loss to Lassiter and a 27-point victory over Forsyth Central.
“Self-inflicted wounds are something that are an issue with us in all three facets of the game,” said Shackelford, who went on to say that penalties, turnovers, missed tackles and busted assignments were putting the Yellow Jackets in a hole.
“I think, when you get those things fixed, a lot of the other things take care of themselves. The winning, the good defense, the good offense, the kicking game all take care of themselves when you eliminate all the self-inflicted wounds. I think we are doing as much to stop ourselves as our opponents are.”
Still, Shackelford said it isn’t all gloomy.
“We are doing a lot of things right,” he said. “We just need to do more of those things and do them more often.”
In preparing for Sprayberry, Teter has been looking at what the Yellow Jackets have done in the past. The teams met twice last season, with Sequoyah winning both times.
“It helps a little bit because you know some of the things that they have done in the past,” Teter said. “Each week, we look at what the opponents do and what we have to do to adjust.”
— By Emily Horos