Week 3 of the high school football season sees all three local teams in action on Friday night. Calhoun travels to Cedartown, Gordon Central hosts Southeast Whitfield and Sonoraville hosts Chattooga. All three games kickoff at 7:30 p.m.
Calhoun has to lick their wounds from their tough loss to McCallie last week, as the Yellow Jackets prepare for a road test against Cedartown. The Cedartown Bulldogs have to rebound from a tough loss last week as well, falling to Rockmart on the road.
It was their first game of the season, and that makes it a little bit more difficult to scout them according to Calhoun Coach Clay Stephenson. One thing for certain is that Cedartown presents a formidable challenge for the Jackets.
“They’re very athletic,” Stephenson said. “They got a running back and linebacker (C.J. Washington) that’s committed to Georgia. They’ve got a couple of other D-1 guys on the team. They’re very athletic and play really hard from the film we’ve watched. We’ll have our hands full with those guys especially.”
Fans can expect a physical game on Friday night, as Stephenson said the biggest key will be how the Jackets stack up against the Bulldogs on both lines of scrimmage.
“It all starts up front on both sides of the ball,” Stephenson said. “They’ve got some really good athletes on their defensive line, and we feel like our defensive line is a strength for us as well. If we control the lines of scrimmage on both offense and defense, that opens up a lot of other things that we can do. That will be the biggest key.”
As Calhoun puts their road loss to McCallie behind them and prepares for their road trip on Friday night, Stephenson’s biggest message to his team going into this game is to cut down on their mistakes and control what they can control.
“We got to force some turnovers and not turn it over as much,” Stephenson said. “Especially early in the year, if you turn it over as much as we did the other night (against McCallie), you’re not going to beat too many good teams. It’s about just focusing on the little things and taking care of the ball. On the other side, trying to cause some turnovers we didn’t have the other night. That’s kind of the biggest area of focus so far this week.”
Just outside the city limits, Gordon Central plays their second home game of the year on Friday against a Southeast Whitfield team that has struggled in the early goings of the season. Gordon Central coach T.J. Hamilton believes that this Friday provides a great opportunity to get their first win of the season against the 0-2 Raiders of Southeast Whitfield.
“I love our chances,” Hamilton said. “If we take care of business, I think that we might come out of this with our first win. Southeast is really big up front. They’re going to run the football just like we are, so it’s going to be one of those ground-and-pound games. I do like our chances at obtaining our first win this year.”
To get the win, the always positive Hamilton knows his team has improvements to make from last week to this week and needs to take advantage of their opportunities.
“Defensively, it’s tackling, especially in the open field,” Hamilton said. “We lacked a little bit of perimeter tackling. That’s a big emphasis for us this week. Offensively, it’s completing drives, eliminating costly bad snaps and finishing off runs and plays. When we can throw the football, we got to be able to complete it because with what we do we’re only going to get a few opportunities to complete those balls. When we get those chances, we have to take advantage of them.”
Hamilton says that fans can expect a game that is determined by who dominates the lines of scrimmage. Above all, he says his team just needs to focus on themselves.
“If we can take care of us and do those little things, I like our chances this week at Ratner Stadium, getting a win going into our bye week,” Hamilton said.
Across the county, the Sonoraville Phoenix are back in action on Friday as they will welcome Chattooga (1-1) to The Furnace in their homecoming game. Sonoraville Coach Denver Pate says that the Chattooga Indians’ team speed and athletes on offense will present a big challenge to the Phoenix on Friday night.
“Whenever you play Chattooga, you know you’re going to play an athletic team,” Pate said. “They got a running back over there — Lashaun Lester. He’s got a few offers. He runs the ball extremely hard. We got to do a good job of not letting him get going. Gang tackling is what’s going to be key for us. Cash Allen, their quarterback, is a big, tall kid. He’s probably about 6-1. He does a good job throwing it around. They got a freshman in Nic Hester who’s got a lot of speed. Whether it be on kick returns or the perimeter, he can go.”
The biggest keys to victory according to Pate are to hold the Indians’ defensive line in check and eliminate the Phoenix’s mistakes from the opening game.
“We’re looking to eliminate mistakes,” Pate said. “We had nine penalties and three turnovers (against Model). Eliminating those mistakes is going to be key for us to come out victorious this Friday.”