As Cedartown gets ready to play Troup County this week, they seek one big task: stay ahead of the Tigers who head into this week just a spot behind the Bulldogs in the region 5-4A standings heading into Week 10 of the season.
Meanwhile, in the non-shocker of the century, the no.1 ranked Cartersville Purple Hurricanes lead Region 5-4A once again. The Canes, who are going for a region four-peat, have went 21-0 in region play since region realignment prior to the 2016 season.
They added another win against Sandy Creek this past week.
Former Head Coach Joey King departed in February to become the Wide Recievers Coach at Coastal Carolina University.
In doing so, the ‘Ville found themselves without one of the best young high school football coaches in the nation. However, rather than going outside, the Canes decided to promote within. They promoted Conor Foster, their previous defensive coordinator, to Head Coach. The former state champion as a player at Cartersville in 1999 has led his squad to a perfect record and no. 1 ranking in the state thus far in the season.
The usual star-studded Canes are no different in 2019. Their numerous Division 1 commits are led by quarterback Tee Webb, a three-star athlete pledged to Louisville.
Aside from a close win over Allatoona in week one (14-13), Cartersville decisively won the rest of their first five games against Luella (47-0), McNair (51-0), Cherokee (28-7), and Cedartown (24-2). They won a near hiccup against Central two weeks ago (16-14) before blowing out LaGrange (45-2) and holding on for a 10-point win over Sandy Creek (52-42.)
Despite the great start, they will have stiff competition if they will want to repeat as region champions. Sandy Creek, who was ranked No. 2 in the state before they played the Purple Hurricanes, were perfect on the season.
Coach Brett Garvin had Sandy Creek at 6-0 for the first time since 2014 until they dropped the loss to Cartersville. That dropped them to one loss in the region and tied the standings between the Bulldogs, Tigers and Patriots for the second spot behind Cartersville.
The Patriots also have talent at every position and many guys boasting big-time scholarships, but their biggest recruit has to be Brian Branch. The 6-0, 182 pound receiver and defensive back is a four-star safety committed to Alabama.
“The Creek” were ranked no. 2 in the state for good reason: they have crushed every opponent so far but Cartersville. After shutting out Whitewater week one (52-0), they reeled off three more non-region victories over Hampton (47-3), Ridgeland (43-7), and Starr’s Mill (28-10) before opening region play in LaGrange.
In what was a shock for most around the state, the Patriots blew past highly-ranked Troup County (44-7). Their 45-24 victory over Chapel Hill in past weeks sets up last weekend’s clash in Bartow County while Cedartown was off on a bye week.
Meanwhile, after a rocky start to the season, the Cedartown Bulldogs finally seem as if they are back on track. The Bulldogs, without starting quarterback Taji Hudson, are third in the region at the moment with a 3-4 record, 2-1 in region play.
Hudson, who went down for the season in the week one loss against Rockmart, was one of the top quarterback prospects in the state for the class of 2020. He is committed to East Carolina.
This Cedartown team, led by third-year Head Coach Doyle Kelly, is a very talented one. The “next-in-line” quarterback is Jayden Johnson, and the junior has proven to be a serviceable signal-caller.
The Bulldogs’ top prospects include Clemson commit Kobe Pryor at running back and four-star athlete CJ Washington who holds offers from programs such as Coastal Carolina, Louisville, and Nebraska.
Following the season-opening loss to Rockmart, Cedartown dropped two close ones to Alexander (27-20) and Bremen (10-7). They picked up their first win in a big fashion at Southeast Whitfield (57-14) before losing to Cartersville (24-2). Two weeks ago, the Bulldogs beat down LaGrange 51-6 and are now coming off a huge 28-21 win over Central. If Cedartown could win out, they could wind up hosting a playoff game at year’s end.
Speaking of Troup County, the Tigers still have a ton to play for.
With a little help, Troup could still win Region 5-4A. Help they got in the form of Sandy Creek’s loss to Cartersville.
To do so, the Tigers would have to play absolutely perfect from here on out. Coach Tanner Glisson is the man-in-charge of one of the most talented teams on-paper in the state of Georgia.
Their best players are four-star defensive end Andy Boykin and their Auburn commit at quarterback, Kobe Hudson. Troup beat Ridgeland in a 65-24 shootout to open 2019 before rattling off victories over Columbus (68-13) and Harris County (27-21). After a humbling loss to cross-county rival Callaway (55-45), the Tigers beat Chapel Hill to open region play 21-14. Two weeks ago was their shocking beat down at the hands of Sandy Creek (44-7).
Hudson was reportedly suspended for the game, but it begs the question if he would have made enough of a difference in the loss. If they can win out, they should be able to host a playoff game. With some luck, they could be the one-seed.
Last week, Troup took a 21-6 win over LaGrange heading into Friday’s game here in Cedartown.
The Central Lions are back to competing at a high level. Coach Darius Smiley deserves a major tip of the hat in this regard, as the third-year head coach has brought them from 0-10 to a possible playoff team. Though they’ll have to play perfect as well through the rest of the region schedule to try and clinch a playoff spot. Their cause was not helped last week when they fell to Chapel Hill in a 35-27 defeat on the road.
Players to watch for Central are Carrollton-transfer Kashif Taylor at quarterback, Ross Helton at defensive end, and Coastal Carolina commit Shane Bruce at linebacker. These players have helped tremendously in leading the Lions to a 3-4 overall record and a 1-2 region mark. After beating down South Atlanta in week one (33-8), they dropped a bad 51-14 loss at Rockmart. The following week they fell to Mundy’s Mill (27-19) and then beat Heard County (33-14). In opening region play, the Lions beat LaGrange 17-14. The following week they were just short of sending shockwaves through the state, falling 16-14 to Cartersville.
In a massive region game against Cedartown, the Lions once again came up just shy, losing 28-21. They are currently on the outside looking in, but if they get some wins and get some help in the latter half of the season, they could find themselves claiming a four-seed in Region 5-4A.
Chapel Hill’s season started off fantastic. They’ve cooled off since as a much improved Panthers team are now 4-3 on the season after the win over Central.
The lines for the Panthers are stout, including Oregon commit Bradyn Swinson on the defensive line and Division 1 prospect Zaire Flournoy on the offensive line. Chapel Hill crushed Newnan 31-10 to start out 2019 before falling at Ola (24-14).
They followed that up with wins over Starr’s Mill (28-21) and Whitewater (29-8). In their region opener, the Panthers fell just short against Troup County (21-14) before falling at Sandy Creek last week 45-24. There is still plenty to play for if you are the Panthers. At 0-2 in region play, there needs to be a strong sense of urgency. However, if DeShon and company can fix some things, it is not yet out of the question for them to make a run for the playoffs.
And finally, LaGrange. It seems like every year the same conversation comes up about the Grangers. They start out with promising results and it all goes downhill from there.
Unfortunately, this pattern has stuck around another year for LaGrange. Second-year Head Coach Chuck Gibbs has improved each year since the winless season of 2017, a year before he arrived at LG, but still needs more time until they make a playoff appearance. After losing lots of seniors in 2019, this year’s squad is young. In time, they will compete for a three-seed or four-seed.
The Grangers opened the season with a big win over Heard County (24-9), but followed that up with a bad loss against Callaway (56-10). After a close win against Hampton (18-14), they fell just short of a comeback against Central (17-14).
Their region skid has continued since, with back-to-back blowouts at the hands of Cedartown (51-6) and Cartersville (45-2). Sadly, it just does not appear that this will be the year LG gets a region win.