The Cedartown Bulldogs are clawing and scratching their way back from a bad start to the year.
After a loss to Rockmart and injury of quarterback Taji Hudson in the opening game of the year, Cedartown has struggled to find their footing against the likes of Alexander, Bremen and Cartersville. In past weeks, Cedartown has found some success and big points against Southeast Whitfield and their last Friday win over LaGrange for homecoming.
This next one coming up on Friday night might provide a better glimpse of whether the Bulldogs will make the postseason this year. Cedartown's latest road trip takes them south to Carrollton to face the Central Carroll Lions, a 3-3 team that is in the same position as Central in the region standings at 1-1 so far on the year.
Head coach Doyle Kelley called for fans to make the drive south and support the team in what promises to be a close game.
"I need everyone who came out here tonight to be at Central Carrollton, and let's go down there and take on the Lions," Kelley said.
The 2-3 Bulldogs (1-1 in the region) are tied in third place with Central behind Sandy Creek and Cartersville in 5-4A standings heading into this week.
Kelley said despite a big 51-7 win over LaGrange for homecoming, his team still has some improvements to make past the mid-season point. He also is keeping a close eye on how he thinks Central will try and keep Cedartown off-balance.
"They probably are going to give us a four man front, something like that," Kelley said about their defense, and added "I know they've got a big quarterback this year, he's a real good player. They have a good running back. We've got to play defense like we did tonight (Oct. 4) and we've got to trust the coaches game plan that we put in place tonight and for next week."
Unfortunately, one key piece of the Bulldogs offense won't be back for this game, or the year.
Hudson, who was injured against Rockmart and didn't play in the second half, remains sidelined and is still healing after hurting his liver and spleen.
"We're not going to get Taji back this year, we know that," Kelley said. "You can't take a chance with our kids. Taji is too important, and want to get him healthy. He's done a lot for Cedartown, and he's got plans for the future. We don't want to interrupt those plans."
That means Cedartown's reliance on Jayden Johnson and Reece Tanner under center will be a big focus in the coming match-up. Johnson and Tanner both saw playing time against LaGrange, and both had the opportunity to pass against the Granger defense to positive results.
They'll face a Lions team with at least 19 seniors on the squad, including running backs Shane Bruce and Abrin Daniel on the field.
The Lions are coming off a close loss to Cartersville last week, falling 16 to 14 after trying for a second half comeback against the Purple Hurricanes and falling short by two points after they took a late 14-10 lead.
Historically, Cedartown is 15-10 overall against Central, and are 3-2 against the Lions in the past five seasons. Their last win in 2018 was a 48-17 rout at home.