CARTERSVILLE — Kell did what it needed to do on Friday.
Now, the real test comes next week when the Longhorns — who will travel to Columbia to open the Class AAAAA state playoffs — will try to put its two losses behind it and prove it’s a state title contender.
Perhaps the Longhorns’ 51-7 victory at Woodland-Cartersville on Friday night was a pop quiz of sorts.
Kell (8-2, 6-2) had all the fun it could on offense, led by four touchdown runs on 147 yards by Tyler Barrett and 141 total yards from freshman David Mbadinga, but the friction in the game game when Woodland (0-10, 0-8) attacked the Longhorns’ much larger defensive front with a vintage trap-based run game.
The Wildcats honored their senior workhorse Demarcus Williams with 34 carries out of 51 total plays in his final game, to which he ran for 150 yards — but Williams never found the end zone until the waning moments in the fourth quarter. Outside of a 38-yard scamper, Kell managed to keep 46 of those plays under 10 yards and held Woodland to just 181 total yards. But that didn’t mean the home team didn’t wake Kell up early on.
“That style of running game really made us focus. You’ve got to be able to follow your keys and we’ve got to e ready for that if we were to play against something similar in the playoffs,” Kell head coach Brett Sloan said.
On the flipside, the Longhorns offense looked postseason ready. Barrett averaged 14.7 yards per carry and capped the game with a 65-yard touchdown run on Kell’s final offensive play. Mbadinga scored the game’s first touchdown on a 1-yard run.
On the next drive Mbadinga caught a 52-yard pass that set up a 21-yard scoring strike from quarterback Corbin LaFrance to Jaylon Brown.
Barrett also had touchdown runs of 5, 2 and 4 yards, while LaFrance found the end zone on the ground to start the second half. Kell ran just 30 total plays for 387 yards, with seven plays going over 20.
There wasn’t a lot of samples, but Sloan thought the offense showed its readiness for the second season.
“I thought it was the cleanest we’ve played all year,” Sloan said. “The execution was there from start to finish.”
LaFrance wasn’t asked to do much in the air, but completed 6 of 11 passes for 141 yards. The Longhorns gained 246 yards on the ground.
Kell scored on every possession, including knocking through a 44-yard field goal by Colby Kerns as time expired in the first half. The Longhorns defense were bent by Williams’ runs, but kept Woodland at bay by forcing two turnovers on downs and recovering two lost fumbles. The second lost fumble from Woodland came in the second half from their own 15 on a fake punt.
After the next score the game moved to a running clock.