Bulldogs advance to Sweet 16 after first-round forfeit

Cedartown head coach Jamie Abrams and the Bulldogs will move forward preparing for the second round of the state playoffs after their first-round game was forfeited by Arabia Mountain.

Cedartown High School head football coach Jamie Abrams says it is like a second preseason.

His team is in the middle of what has turned into at least a three-week break between football games.

Cedartown’s wait for the next kickoff was extended again last Wednesday when Arabia Mountain forfeited its first-round playoff game with the Bulldogs because of reports of COVID-19 among its team.

Abrams said his staff found out about the forfeit as they were wrapping up their practice that morning. Polk County schools were last week for Thanksgiving break.

“It is frustrating to think about the number of hours you spend preparing for a game that doesn’t come. I hate it for their players as well who were looking to get out there,” Abrams said.

“Our kids keep handling it well and rolling with the punches.”

Cedartown’s last regular season game on Nov. 20 was canceled after its opponent, Heritage-Catoosa, reported a person connected to the football team tested positive for COVID-19 and a number of players were placed in quarantine.

That threw the Bulldogs into preparing for their first-round Class 4A playoff game, which they were set to host Saturday against the Rams after winning the Region 7-4A title.

But with last Wednesday’s announcement, Cedartown automatically advances to the next round to host the North Oconee after its 41-35 win over Fayette County on Saturday.

“Good Lord willing, we’ll play (this) week,” Abrams said.

“You start to worry about keeping the kids interested and still practicing. They’ve done a good job being out of school this week, and we’ve had some really good practices. I hope we make it through the Thanksgiving holiday without any issues. Then we’ll reconvene and see what we can get done next week.”

The Georgia High School Association announced this season any school that has a COVID-19 outbreak during the playoffs would have to forfeit as there is no time to reschedule contests between rounds and be fair to the other teams.

As a result of the uncommon advancement, Cedartown is in the second round of the state playoffs for the first time since 2017 and just the second time since 2002. The Bulldogs captured a region title this season for the first time since 2001 and are 6-2, having won their last six games.

As for Cedartown’s Sweet 16 opponent, North Oconee is the No. 3 seed from Region 8-4A.

North Oconee (4-6) posted solid wins over East Hall (48-7) and Cedar Shoals (31-7) before having to cancel its final regular season game against Jefferson that was scheduled for Nov. 13 because of a positive coronavirus case within the team.

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