Hoping to get on the winning side of the ledger to start the 2021 football season, Gordon Central travels to Cartersville to face Woodland Friday night in the lid-lifter for both schools.
The Warriors are looking for momentum going into the season and with each passing week. And they can build off times like last week when against Sonoraville in the team’s scrimmage at Ratner Stadium, the Warriors scored 10 points in the third quarter and looked like they were going to score two touchdowns instead of a touchdown and a field goal.
“That was good to see,” Gordon Central head football coach T.J. Hamilton said of the back-to-back scoring drives. “We would liked to have had two touchdowns right there because we punched it inside the five. So to get that close and then have the bad snap and the touch-sack was disappointing, but that’s something we’ll get corrected.”
On the heels of a 22-yard pass reception by freshman tight end Matthew Hammock and a 6-yard dash from senior running back Sean Gray, the Warriors had a second and goal at the Sonoraville 2, but two negative plays pushed them back and the home team settled for a 33-yard field goal by Allen Garcia.
The next time they got the football, after a fumble recovery put them just barely on their own side of the 50-yard line, they showed their quick strike capability.
On the first play, junior quarterback Peyton Wilson lofted a long 51-yard pass to Gray for their touchdown.
“We really needed that,” Hamilton said. “It was the same play we ran against Coahulla (Creek) that we didn’t quite make the connection on. But this time it was a well-thrown ball and the receiver made a great play.”
“And on the drive for the field goal, we had a freshman tight end make a big play for us in the passing game, so we just want to keep making plays. It’s fun to see our quarterback and our receivers play a little pitch-and-catch.”
They really struggled to move the football in the first half against Sonoraville, so Hamilton said the coaches decided to scale some things back and try and make things a little bit easier for the players.
“We made some adjustments at halftime and decided to try and simplify some things for the kids,” Hamilton said. “We had some execution issues in the first half and we were having some alignment issues. We had a couple of bad snaps mixed in there and so we just decided to try and just simplify things. And it really seemed to make a difference because we were able to move the football in the second part of the scrimmage.”
The Warriors are operating out of the Wing-T offense, which is one of the game’s oldest offenses but still one of the game’s most effective.
Simply put, when Wing-T teams get rolling they run a lot of plays, slowly pick up quite a few consecutive first downs and the clock rarely stops running. It’s also an offense that can keep the other team’s offense on the sideline for long stretches of a game.
“We just need to keep working and making progress with what we’re doing,” Hamilton said. “Execution is the key in a play like that. Execution by your guys up front to give your quarterback time. Your quarterback giving your receiver a chance to make a play with a well-thrown ball. And the receiver making the catch. That was a big play we’ve been waiting for and I know there are more to come.
“And our players know they’re more to come. We just need to continue working on our execution and correcting our mistakes and we can continue to get better.”
Coach Hamilton and his staff have used a number of different players to carry the ball in their run-oriented scheme. Senior Randall Carnes, senior D’Andre McIntosh, sophomore Braxton Carnes, freshman Jayden Jones, and senior Brison McGinnis have all carried the rock a few times in the two scrimmages.
The Warriors do have significant size and experience up front on both sides of the ball since a few of their lineman play offense and defense.
Senior captains Cade Hendrix (6-3, 315), Paul Guerrero (6-3, 285), Ethan Hendrix (6-0, 315) and Brock Shellhouse (6-3, 295) are the leaders in the trenches and Coach Hamilton wants to see those big guys throwing their weight around.
Woodland was a .500 football team last year, going 4-4 in a shortened season, but were just 1-4 in 5-A Region 7 action.
The Warriors lost 14-0 to the Wildcats last year to start their season and Hamilton said they will present a big challenge.
“They’ve got a quarterback that is really shifty and we’ve got to contain him,” Hamilton said. “They’ve gone from using the T formation to the spread, looking to utilize his ability and they’ve got a slew of receivers that they like to throw too.
“They’ve also got an excellent running back and good size up front. Their left tackle is 6-foot-7, 315 pounds so we’ve got to figure a way to get around him. But there’s no doubt that this is going to be a tough first game because Woodland is definitely a quality opponent.”
The teams will kick off in Cartersville at 7:30 p.m.