A storm is brewing in Bartow County as the top teams I’m Class AAAA football are set to square off on Friday night.
Cedartown is taking a trip to Cartersville to open up their Region 5-AAAA against the defending state champion Purple Hurricanes. It’s a challenge head coach Doyle Kelley said he believes is team will be ready for when game time arrives in two days.
“We’ve got athletes as well, and we’re getting our game plan ready,” Kelley said. “We’ll be ready on Friday to play.”
Georgia Public Broadcasting has both teams ranked in the Top 10 in the state, and Cartersville gets the added honor of being ranked fourth in the nation for it’s size school in football, according to Kelley.
The No. 1 ranked Purple Hurricanes come in with a 4-0 record of their own, having knocked out Allatoona, Calhoun, Bantram Trail High School in Florida and Westlake.
Cedartown’s ranked 9th in the state with their 4-0 record, having swatted down rival Rockmart Yellow Jackets to kick off the season, ran off the Cherokee County Warriors, shut out Gilmer County and outscored the Pepperell Dragons on the road.
All of this has thus far been like living a dream for Kelley, who celebrates his team’s 4-0 start for the year as well as a winning beginning of his career.
“I keep telling people that I’m living the dream, because honestly all I’ve ever wanted to do was coach Cedartown Bulldogs football,” he said. ‘It’s a dream, and to be 4-0 at the start of the season makes it that much better.”
Kelley admits that all of this wouldn’t be without the hard work his team has been putting in to improve each week.
He said much of that comes from the offense having grown up over the past year and those results showing in the form of multiple threats on the field.
Quarterback Trevon Wofford for instance has grown in his leadership on the field since taking over as a sophomore, and come into the job of his own improvement in the early season. Against Pepperell, he put up 13-of-16 passing for 169 yards and four touchdowns in the non-region rivalry game. Tony Mathis had 14 carries for 119 yards and a touchdown, as well as two touchdown receptions
Threats like these, along with Joseph Gibbons, Kobe Bryant and TJ Martin — who has been Player of the Week for Fox 5 and Chick-fil-A, make Cedartown a dangerous team for the top-ranked Purple Hurricanes.
“When we came in at the beginning of the year and Coach Kelley and Coach Hammond took over on offense, I knew that making that change and the change to our playbook was going to be a challenge,” said Kelley “The guys have really bought into what we’re doing, and I think because they have grown in maturity we can do a lot more with them than what they could do in the past.”
But they aren’t top ranked for nothing.
Cartersville senior quarterback put up 284 yards over Westlake on Sept 8 in their last game ahead of the start of region play this Friday, going 17 of 23 on passing completion and threw for two touchdowns.
He has 1,211 yards, 12 touchdown passes and is the third ranked quarterback in the state.
The good news for the Bulldogs: they aren’t the only ones who have struggled to figure out what to do with one of the top-ranked offenses in the nation.
A two-week break ahead of the start of the region after a trip to Lindale is the one benefit they have in preparing for the Purple Hurricanes, and Kelley said he’s been thankful for the time.
But when his team goes to Cartersville on Friday night, he knows one thing for sure: no matter the outcome, the season doesn’t end with this upcoming game.
“We’ve got a lot of good teams in our region this year,” he said. “Cartersville is playing well, but so is Troup County and Sandy Creek. It’s not all about one team, but we are taking things one game at a time, and we’re improving every game.”
Kelley did add that he was thankful for the growing crowds each game at Cedartown Memorial Stadium as the community shares in his belief that this is a great Bulldog team for the 2017 season.
“That support from everyone in the community really means a lot to us.” he said.