Last year: North Paulding 62, Allatoona 46
All-time series: Series tied 3-3
Prediction: Allatoona 35, North Paulding 28
Allatoona managed to get two tough Region 5AAAAA opponents out of the way to start the season, and it emerged victorious in both games.
Now, the Buccaneers take on their archrival when North Paulding visits Cobb Energy/Buccaneer Stadium tonight.
With this being a non-region contest for the first time in three years, Allatoona coaches are looking at this game as an opportunity to strengthen what the team is already doing well and improve upon areas where they’re struggling, but the players are looking to make a statement after falling to the Wolfpack 62-46 late last season.
“The non-region aspect changes things up for the coaches, but not for the kids,” Allatoona coach Gary Varner said. “The kids are excited about whoever we play. It should be a good atmosphere.”
The Buccaneers are finding ways to win, and Russell Halimon has been a pleasant surprise at running back. Originally the backup running back to Josh Bettistea, who has yet to take the field for undisclosed reasons, Halimon is already closing in on 500 rushing yards after totaling 261 and four touchdowns last week against Villa Rica.
Varner hasn’t given an exact timetable on Bettistea’s return, but he said his running back could return any time within the next couple of weeks.
Without Bettistea, the running game appears to be intact with Halimon, Bryant Dallas and the Buccaneers’ improved offensive line. But it’s the mental mistakes that Allatoona is looking to fix before resuming Region 5AAAAA play next week at Lithia Springs.
Untimely penalties have interfered on both sides of the ball and usually come on the bigger plays. Also, the Buccaneers have had early second half difficulties in their first two games.
They gave up a quick 21 points in the third quarter of their season-opening win over East Paulding, after taking a 14-0 lead into the locker room. Against Villa Rica, Allatoona gave up a touchdown and a safety after holding a two-touchdown halftime advantage.
“That’s been the main focus this week,” Varner said. “If we can fix the mental breakdowns, maybe we can start second halves better. Last week was almost a replay (from the week before). We’re talking about it as a staff and figuring out what we can do better.”