Getting something off my chest
I want to open this column with a little clarification of an issue that has been brought up over and over since I have been at the Calhoun Times for what will be six years in mid-October, and I want to let my voice be heard on it.
Last Friday, three Calhoun players were ejected from the Calhoun-North Murray game due to a skirmish that briefly broke out after a play in the second quarter. Due to the fact that referees do not wear microphones in high school and penalties are not announced with a specific number, our reporter covering the game was unaware of which specific players were ejected. Texts to coaches and others at the game asking which specific players were ejected were not returned until after our 11:30 p.m. deadline to send and approve our Sports front page, therefore the names of the players ejected were not included in the game story on Saturday.
The names of the three players were included in the preview online of this week’s Calhoun-Haralson County game because we had the information to put into the story.
So there is the full explanation. Here is what I simply cannot accept. When some readers noticed the names of the ejected players were not in the initial game story, we heard from various people and places that once again we were “favoring Calhoun” or “trying to cover up something for Calhoun” or other ridiculous thoughts.
Then there was another play that happened in the game where a North Murray player was hurt on a Calhoun kickoff return, and we didn’t speak of it in the story so we were once again “favoring Calhoun” or “trying to cover up something for Calhoun.” First of all, we had no knowledge of what happened on that play until later in the weekend when it became an issue online, and second of all, the play was not penalized during the game.
Folks, I’m tired of having to fight this battle. It is very frustrating to hear the same old stuff about us treating Calhoun special or differently than the other local schools. I have gone above and beyond over my time here covering local sports to make sure I let it be known that I value each local school equally and that my coverage in the sports section represents that. I have great relationships with coaches, administrators, parents and fans at each school (or so I believe. If not, somebody please let me know who I made mad.), and I feel like each is given the same level of attention and care. And our managing editor, Brandi, has also followed the same path with our news and lifestyle section. We cannot speak for what the paper did or didn’t do before us, but that is in the past and it is time to move forward.
If you want to point out a mistake that you think we made or an issue that you think we should cover in the paper, please feel free to do so. Our email addresses and our phone number appear in each and every paper we publish. But can we please get past this nonsense and false thinking of us handling Calhoun or any other school system, people or issues differently than others based on how we want it to appear in the paper. It is getting rather old.
Football picks for the weekend
Alright, now that issue is out of the way, so let’s get to a better topic…football. The weekend has some intriguing games so here are my picks:
Georgia at Tennessee
The Bulldogs are fresh off their most impressive statement win of the season and possibly in the last few seasons with their 31-3 victory over Mississippi State. But it always comes back to how they perform once everyone acknowledges how good a team they are. In the past, this is where they would have a letdown and lose a game they probably shouldn’t.
This is an opponent that has backed their way into some wins over Georgia in the recent past as well so the conditions are right for that kind of performance from Georgia. But I think this is different kind of Georgia team (even as much as it pains me to say). And Tennessee just isn’t very good on top of that.
Do I think this one will be competitive early on, possibly into the third quarter? Yes. But Georgia’s talent and speed on defense and multi-dimensional running game and enough of a passing threat makes it not very competitive in the second half. Georgia pulls away and coasts to a victory over their rivals from Knoxville.
Score: Georgia wins, 37-20.
North Carolina at Georgia Tech
This is one of those games where Georgia Tech should feel good about themselves going into it. North Carolina is struggling mightily, and the Jackets are at home, coming off an ACC win to open conference play. But the Jackets have proven that they are consistently inconsistent over the past several years so anything can happen in a game like this.
Georgia Tech looked rather sloppy in their 35-17 win over Pittsburgh last Saturday thanks to several fumbles, which caused them to let the Panthers hang around. And the more you let a team hang around, the more likely a team is to beat you when they have no business doing so (see the Tennessee loss on opening weekend).
I do think ball security will be a point of emphasis (which it should be every week but whatever) for the Jackets, and that will lead to a potent offensive attack against an under-manned Tar Heel defense. Georgia Tech puts together their most complete performance to this point of the season in a big win.
Score: Georgia Tech wins, 42-24.
Mississippi State at Auburn
This game will determine which SEC West team is ready to step up and be the main challenger for Alabama in the division and which team goes back to the middle of the pack. The Bulldogs were embarrassed and exposed last Saturday in Athens in a blowout loss to Georgia. Auburn, on the other hand, went on the road and took care of business with a destruction of Missouri that came after a rather lackluster win against Mercer the week before.
I think Mississippi State will bounce back with a better performance and quarterback Nick Fitzgerald has a nice day against a solid Auburn defense. But the Tigers will get back to their strong running game. I think the home team will win this one and remain in solid standing in the West while Mississippi State suffers their second conference loss.
Score: Auburn wins, 27-23.
Clemson at Virginia Tech
No offense to Auburn fans, but this will be Clemson’s toughest test so far as they enter a hostile environment at Lane Stadium at night against the Hokies.
Virginia Tech has flown under the radar a little, but their new quarterback Josh Jackson has been very impressive to this point. He’ll have his hands full, however, against a Clemson defense that is deeper and more talented than the one that helped them win a national title last year. Plus, the Tigers’ offense seems to be getting better each week under new quarterback Kelly Bryant.
The Hokies will make it interesting, but Clemson’s talent and experience in big games shines in the second half.
Score: Clemson wins, 31-21.
Buffalo Bills at Atlanta Falcons
The Falcons are 3-0, but it certainly hasn’t been in the most impressive fashion as they have had to hold on for dear life and catch a few breaks in their wins over Chicago and Detroit. Buffalo, who nobody expected much from, is 2-1 after an impressive win over Denver last week.
Atlanta better not take this game lightly before they go into their bye week because the Bills have enough talent on offense and a stout defense to cause problems. I just feel like the Falcons are due for a complete performance and a relatively stress-free win. I think Matt Ryan and the offense cleans up the turnovers and continues to use the strong running game with the Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman combo platter, and the defense gets after it once again.
Falcons move to 4-0 and head into their bye week as the top team in the league.
Score: Falcons win, 35-17.