Two Highway 41 neighbors will get together on the field on Friday night, but it’s unlikely to be a cordial reunion.
Calhoun travels just down the road to take on old rival Adairsville in a Region 6-AAA South subregion contest with both teams knowing the importance of the game not only for bragging rights but for playoff implications.
The Jackets (5-1, 1-0 subregion) have had the upper hand over the last several years against Adairsville as they have won 12 in a row with the Tigers’ last win in the series coming in 1998. Calhoun coach Hal Lamb said he knows how far back this rivalry goes and how much it means to the people in both communities.
“It is definitely a rivalry, and it goes way back before I got here,” said Lamb. “I think it is a very respectful rivalry. We have lots of respect for them, and I think they have lots of respect for us. It is always a good, competitive battle but also a clean rivalry game and great atmosphere.”
The Tigers (3-2) will be rested after a week off last Friday which came just at the right time after several competitive non-region and Region 6-AAA crossover contests. The Adairsville offense has taken center stage so far this season as they have put up 40 or more points three times already. Lamb said he knows trying to slow down that offense will be a huge challenge and the No. 1 priority for his Jackets.
“They are very dangerous, especially offensively,” said Lamb. “They have a very difficult scheme on offense and can cause you a lot of problems if you don’t play very disciplined on the defensive side. But their defense has made several changes as well, and they are very capable of stopping you too.
“Coach (Eric) Bishop does a great job there, and we’ve got to be ready for a well-coached, hungry football team on Friday.”
The Jackets are riding high coming off their dominant victory last Friday on Homecoming Night against Haralson County to open the subregion. Calhoun blew open the game late in the second quarter and continued the momentum in the third to pull away for a 41-10 victory. The offense was led by quarterback Gavin Gray, who threw for 336 yards and two touchdowns. Bralin Barton and Luke Moseley each had at least 90 yards receiving with Barton adding a touchdown, and Payton Morrow had a 50-yard touchdown reception as well.
Lamb said the offense carried the bigger load in the win after the defense had led the way for much of the early season.
“I think we didn’t play up to our standards defensively on Friday, but our offense played very well,” said Lamb. “Overall, it was a good night for us, and we took care of business.”
Before last year’s 29-3 win over Adairsville, Calhoun has won every game against their southern rival by 30 points or more dating back to 2004. Lamb, who is 12-0 against Adairsville since coming to Calhoun, said his team can’t get caught up in that and make sure they focus on several keys to have success on Friday against a very formidable Tigers’ team.
“We’ve got to contain their offense somehow,” said Lamb. “We know going into the game that you are not very likely to shut them down altogether, but we just have to try to hold them down some. Offensively for us, we’ve got to sustain some drives to keep it away from them. And just like every week, you have to win the turnover battle. We can’t give them extra possessions by turning the ball over.”