Two unbeaten football teams looking to remain that way will square off Friday night at Phil Reeve Stadium when Calhoun entertains Chattanooga McCallie in town.
Both teams marched up and down the field last Friday night in winning their openers last week with Calhoun outlasting Dalton, 42-35, while McCallie scored six touchdowns in the middle two quarters to roll past Chattanooga Christian, 46-7, just north of the Georgia border.
The Blue Tornado come into the game having already earned a ton of credibility in Tennessee.
Coming off an outstanding 10-3 season last year that included a 38-22 win over Calhoun in week two in Chattanooga, McCallie is presently the number-three ranked overall team in the state of Tennessee.
They are also ranked second in the statewide Tennessee Division II-AAA poll and they are the number one ranked team overall in Chatanooga.
And the Blue Tornado looked the part against Chattanooga Christian in their first game, throwing for nearly 400 yards with senior quarterback William Riddle hooking up with his receivers to make numerous big plays.
Using a moving pocket after a shotgun snap, Riddle was on target to a number of guys out of their four-set receiver offense as McCallie put 25 points on the board in the second quarter and then 21 more in the third for their easy victory, showing just how explosive they can be.
So it would seem the stage is set for another shootout like the one the Yellow Jackets experienced last Friday night because they are no slouch themselves offensively, evidenced by the nearly 440 yards of offense and six touchdowns they put on the board against Dalton.
On some series, they ran the football and others, they came out looking to throw, and on others, they mixed things up, but the bottom line seemed to be that senior quarterback Christopher Lewis and company were effective no matter which way they chose to transport the rock.
Running backs Gage Leonard and sophomore Caden Williams each went over the 100-yard mark in rushing yardage and Lewis himself had a 38-yard touchdown run, weaving his way through a lot of traffic for the first 15 yards or so before he got ahead of the pack at the 20 for the score.
In all, the Jackets ran for 298 yards as a team and passed for 139 more with their first touchdown against the Catamounts coming on a pass while the other five came on the ground.
Calhoun’s first touchdown came after the visitors took a 7-0 lead with a long drive that took about five minutes off the first quarter clock.
With Leonard rushing for 15 yards and Williams collecting 44 more on just two carries, the Jackets traveled 75 yards in seven plays with Lewis throwing a pass over the middle to senior wide receiver Cole Speer for the 26-yard score.
It completed a 75-yard drive that the Jackets needed to run just seven plays .
Their second scoring drive came on a quick five-play, 85-yard journey that culminated in Lewis’s touchdown run.
The big play was a pass to Williams that had a Dalton personal foul penalty tacked on at the end to put the home team outside the Dalton 40. Two plays later, Lewis would run for his touchdown.
The Jackets, who trailed the entire first half, would take control of things with a 21-point third quarter, but could never shake the Catamounts entirely.
They tied the game at 21 by scoring after they took the second-half kickoff.
Starting at their own 25 for the fourth time in the game because the Dalton kicker kept booming the ball through the back of the end zone, they got to midfield almost immediately when Louis completed a 24-yard reception to senior wide receiver Quin Smith on the first snap of the second half.
Three plays and one first down later, Williams broke through a big hole in his offensive line and then cut back to the middle of the field before eventually finding himself in the end zone due to a 37-yard scoring run.
Dalton had a rare 3-and-out on its first possession of the second half, giving Calhoun the football at their own 39.
And on first down, Leonard raced 49 yards and the Jackets were set up nicely at the Dalton 12. Two plays later, Leonard gave his team their first lead of the night with a 9-yard touchdown run that made it 28-21.
Dalton moved into Calhoun territory after the kickoff, but junior defensive back Dustin Kerns picked off a Catamount pass, giving them the ball at their own 46.
The Jackets then covered 54 yards in 10 plays with Lewis scooting in from one yard out to put the home team up, 35-21 as the Men in Black scored three touchdowns in 10 minutes against their rivals from Whitfield County.
Dalton scored the first touchdown of the fourth quarter to make it a one-score game and then recovered the ensuing dropped kickoff, giving them a chance to tie the game.
But on third down, Speer picked off a tipped pass and returned it 45 yards to put the home team at the visitors 24. Three running plays later, Leonard rushed for his second score of the game.
But while the fireworks were going off offensively, the defensive coaches could not have been happy as the rundown crew gave up over 300 yards in total offense and Dalton scored a touchdown in each of the four quarters.
Kickoff Friday night is set for 7:30 p.m. at Phil Reeve Stadium.
Some of the top high school teams and players in the state will be in town Saturday when the first-ever Calhoun Volleyball Invitational is held at Calhoun High School.
A total of 16 teams, some from as far away as Atlanta along with other parts of North Georgia, will be in the field hoping to bring home the Gold Bracket championship later that day.
“We’re very excited about this,” said Calhoun volleyball coach Nic Hann. “This is the first year of holding this and we’re looking forward to it. It’s the first time there’s ever been a varsity volleyball tournament like this in the city of Calhoun, so we think that makes it even more exciting.
“We did have a junior varsity tournament last year to kind of test the waters and that went very well. It gave us a really good idea of what we needed to do to be able to host a varsity tournament like this.
“But we wanted to expand it to a varsity tournament this year, so I started sending out emails to see who we might be able to get to come and I got a tremendous response. And because of the response, I feel like we’ve put together a outstanding tournament, even if it’s the first year were holding it.”
State powers like Wesleyan and Lovett High Schools from Atlanta and Allatoona from around the region reached out, saying they wanted to participate and before Hann and his assistant coaches knew it, they had what he describes as “a very tough field.”
“I wanted to at least bring in a couple of teams that were state championship caliber, but we really wanted to bring in as many tough teams and proven teams as we could and I feel like we’ve been able to do that,” said Hann. “ I really don’t think we could ask for a much better 16-team field then we actually have, especially with this being a brand new, first-time event.
“But that is why we are holding it. We want to get to where this tournament is something special. It’s something other teams want to be a part of because they know it’s an excellent opportunity to showcase their players and showcase their team and play some great competition. But we’re very excited about the Calhoun Invitational because we think it’s going to be a great day of volleyball.”
The 16 teams will be placed in four four-team pools and everyone will play three pool matches to determine their championship status after that.
The first-place teams from all four pools will automatically advance to the Gold bracket championship with the first club to win three games being the first-ever Calhoun Invitational champ
“For the team that wins it, they’re going to have to play well from when we start at 8 a.m. until we finish, probably around 6 o clock,” Hann said. “I mean I know that this is the first time we’re holding this, but I also know that we’re very fortunate with the teams we’ve got playing in it, that it is going to be a very strong tournament.
“The team that wins the Gold bracket will have to win six games and that’s not easy to do period. So I know against the teams in this tournament, the team that does win six consecutive games to win it, will have to play very well.”
In all though, there will be four teams that can walk away with a trophy as there is also a silver, a bronze, and a consolation bracket after pool play.
The four teams that finish second in pool play will move to the silver bracket to determine a winner among those teams.
It will be the same way for the four teams that finish third as they will go onto the bronze bracket and the fourth and last place team in each pool will move on to the consolation bracket.
“That’s what the Silver and Bronze and consolation brackets are for. It gives those teams that maybe struggled earlier in the day a chance to still play for something,” said Hann. “I definitely know that the teams that make it to the Gold bracket are strong, but I also know that you’re going to have some very good volleyball teams playing in the other brackets as well.”
Hann also said he doesn’t see a favorite because quite a few teams come in having a chance to win the Calhoun Invitational.
“I have a buddy of mine who is bringing in a team that he coaches, and he has been asking me, ‘who do you think is going to win it?’, or he has asked, ‘who I think is the favorite,’ and I tell him that I do not know because I think there are a number of teams that could win it.
“I do think it will come down to who plays the best all day and there are number of strong teams in the tournament that could come in and play very good volleyball for a few hours.”
The teams will play at four different sites with Pools A, B, and C playing at Calhoun High School and Pool D will compete at Calhoun Middle School.
Calhoun, Lovett, Carrollton, and Coosa are in Pool A and those teams will play in the main gym on Court 1.
Lafayette, Fannin, N. Cobb County, and Wesleyan are in Pool B and those schools will play in the main gym on Court 2.
Grace HS, Cartersville, Denmark and Allatoona are in Pool C and they will compete in the Auxiliary gym.
Northwest, Dalton, Kell and Cherokee are in Pool D and they will play in the Calhoun Middle School.
The first games are scheduled to begin at 8 a.m. and the Gold championship match is slated to begin around 5 p.m.
All the matches will be held at Calhoun High School.
Pool A games
Main gym, Court 1
Calhoun vs. Lovett, 8 a.m.
Coosa vs. Cartersville, 9 a.m.
Calhoun vs. Coosa, 10 a.m.
Lovett vs. Carrollton, 11 a.m.
Calhoun vs. Carrollton, 12 p.m.
Coosa vs. Lovett, 1 p.m.
Pool B games
Main Gym, Court 2
Lafayette vs. Fannin, 8 a.m.
N. Cobb vs. Wesleyan, 9 a.m.
Lafayette vs. N. Cobb, 10 a.m.
Fannin vs. Wesleyan, 11 a.m.
Lafayette vs. Wesleyan, 12 p.m.
Fannin vs. N. Cobb, 1 p.m.
Pool C games
Calhoun HS Auxilary gym
Grace vs. Cartersville, 8 a.m.
Denmark vs. Allatoona, 9 a.m.
Grace vs. Denmark, 10 a.m.
Cartersville vs. Allatoona, 11 a.m.
Grace vs. Allatoona, 12 p.m.
Denmark vs. Cartersville, 1 p.m.
Pool D games
Calhoun Middle School
Northwest vs. Dalton, 8 a.m.
Kell vs.Cherokee, 9 a.m.
Northwest vs. Kell, 10 a.m.
Dalton vs. Cherokee, 11 a.m.
Northwest vs. Cherokee, 12 p.m.
Dalton vs. Kell, 1 p.m.
The traveling road show that is currently the Gordon Central High School football team continues Friday for the Warriors when they go to Northwest Whitfield County to take on the Bruins.
Head coach T.J. Hamilton’s team is in the second week of a schedule that has them opening with four away games as the Warriors’ regular season home opener is still almost a month from now.
The Tribe returns to Whitfield County next week but this time to face Southeast High School and then they have an open date.
That bye week, as they call it in the professional ranks, gives them two weeks to prepare for their 2-A Region 7 opener on Friday, Sept. 17th at Gordon Lee to complete their quartet of road games to kick things off.
They will actually begin their home schedule a week later on Friday, September 24th against Fannin County.
But that is still a ways away and this Friday night’s game with Northwest Whitfield matches up two teams in search of their first victory no matter where they have to go or not go.
The Warriors fell behind early in their season opener and lost to 5-A opponent Woodland, 43-9 while Northwest Whitfield found itself in a wild back and forth game with neighboring Coahulla Creek before faling 31-25 on a muddy field at Northwest Whitfield HS.
The Creek actually had a couple of more chances to score but lost a fumble inside the Bruins’ 5-yard-line and ran out of downs on another possession.
For the Warriors, they are hoping this is the week they really start to put things together as Region play is not far away. They still have a lot of young players at the skill positions on both sides of the ball and are working to become a solid offensive and defensive football team.
The 2-A Region they play in had mixed results last Friday night on the opening week of high school football in Georgia. The region went 3-4 overall with Dade County, Fannin County, and Pepperell all collecting victories while everyone else took it on the chin.
Dade County got its 2021 season going like everyone hopes their year will begin by returning the opening kickoff 90 yards down the right sideline for a touchdown to eventually spark a 21-12 victory over Gordon Lee, which Gordon Central will see in just over three weeks.
Fannin County got its offense cranked up to the tune of 434 yards and five touchdowns in a 34-7 conquest of Union County. The Rebels also showed they are going to be a force running and throwing the football as they earned 234 yards running and 200 more throwing in the victory.
Pepperell pitched the league’s only shutout in an 18-0 win over Heralson County. But while they had one of the Region’s best defensive efforts of the opening week, the Dragons seem to have one of the league’s biggest playmakers in running back DJ Rogers, who ran for an 81-yard touchdown in that game and also caught a 40-yard touchdown pass.
For the rest of the teams besides Gordon Central and Gordon Lee, Chattooga racked up 300 yards but lost, 33-14, to Adairsville and Model was shut 21-0 by Sonoraville.
The Phoenix racked up 398 yards in offense, including 232 passing. But Model did have a couple of interceptions and two fumble returns.
The Phoenix also had an excellent defensive effort, holding Model to under 50 yards in total offense, including 20 rushing.
Coosa High was the only team in the region that did not play last week as open the season Friday night at Trion.
The kickoff Friday night between Gordon Central and Northwest Whitfield HS is set for 7:30 p.m.