Bull­dogs will be back in ac­tion in Cartersville to start re­gion

The Standard Journal - - LOCAL SPORTS - Ed­i­tor

A storm is brew­ing in Bar­tow County as the top teams I’m Class AAAA foot­ball are set to square off on Fri­day night.

Cedar­town is tak­ing a trip to Cartersville to open up their Re­gion 5-AAAA against the de­fend­ing state cham­pion Pur­ple Hur­ri­canes. It’s a chal­lenge head coach Doyle Kel­ley said he be­lieves is team will be ready for when game time ar­rives in two days.

“We’ve got ath­letes as well, and we’re get­ting our game plan ready,” Kel­ley said. “We’ll be ready on Fri­day to play.”

Ge­or­gia Public Broad­cast­ing has both teams ranked in the Top 10 in the state, and Cartersville gets the added honor of be­ing ranked fourth in the na­tion for it’s size school in foot­ball, ac­cord­ing to Kel­ley.

The No. 1 ranked Pur­ple Hur­ri­canes come in with a 4-0 record of their own, hav­ing knocked out Al­la­toona, Cal­houn, Bantram Trail High School in Flor­ida and West­lake.

Cedar­town’s ranked 9th in the state with their 4-0 record, hav­ing swat­ted down ri­val Rock­mart Yel­low Jack­ets to kick off the sea­son, ran off the Chero­kee County War­riors, shut out Gilmer County and outscored the Pep­perell Dragons on the road.

All of this has thus far been like liv­ing a dream for Kel­ley, who cel­e­brates his team’s 4-0 start for the year as well as a win­ning be­gin­ning of his ca­reer.

“I keep telling peo­ple that I’m liv­ing the dream, be­cause hon­estly all I’ve ever wanted to do was coach Cedar­town Bull­dogs foot­ball,” he said. ‘It’s a dream, and to be 4-0 at the start of the sea­son makes it that much bet­ter.”

Kel­ley ad­mits that all of this wouldn’t be with­out the hard work his team has been putting in to im­prove each week.

He said much of that comes from the of­fense hav­ing grown up over the past year and those results show­ing in the form of mul­ti­ple threats on the field.

Quar­ter­back Trevon Wof­ford for in­stance has grown in his lead­er­ship on the field since tak­ing over as a sopho­more, and come into the job of his own im­prove­ment in the early sea­son. Against Pep­perell, he put up 13-of-16 pass­ing for 169 yards and four touch­downs in the non-re­gion ri­valry game. Tony Mathis had 14 car­ries for 119 yards and a touch­down, as well as two touch­down re­cep­tions

Threats like these, along with Joseph Gib­bons, Kobe Bryant and TJ Martin — who has been Player of the Week for Fox 5 and Chick-fil-A, make Cedar­town a dan­ger­ous team for the top-ranked Pur­ple Hur­ri­canes.

“When we came in at the be­gin­ning of the year and Coach Kel­ley and Coach Ham­mond took over on of­fense, I knew that mak­ing that change and the change to our play­book was go­ing to be a chal­lenge,” said Kel­ley “The guys have re­ally bought into what we’re do­ing, and I think be­cause they have grown in ma­tu­rity we can do a lot more with them than what they could do in the past.”

But they aren’t top ranked for noth­ing.

Cartersville se­nior quar­ter­back put up 284 yards over West­lake on Sept 8 in their last game ahead of the start of re­gion play this Fri­day, go­ing 17 of 23 on pass­ing com­ple­tion and threw for two touch­downs.

He has 1,211 yards, 12 touch­down passes and is the third ranked quar­ter­back in the state.

The good news for the Bull­dogs: they aren’t the only ones who have strug­gled to fig­ure out what to do with one of the top-ranked of­fenses in the na­tion.

A two-week break ahead of the start of the re­gion af­ter a trip to Lin­dale is the one ben­e­fit they have in pre­par­ing for the Pur­ple Hur­ri­canes, and Kel­ley said he’s been thank­ful for the time.

But when his team goes to Cartersville on Fri­day night, he knows one thing for sure: no mat­ter the out­come, the sea­son doesn’t end with this up­com­ing game.

“We’ve got a lot of good teams in our re­gion this year,” he said. “Cartersville is playing well, but so is Troup County and Sandy Creek. It’s not all about one team, but we are tak­ing things one game at a time, and we’re im­prov­ing ev­ery game.”

Kel­ley did add that he was thank­ful for the grow­ing crowds each game at Cedar­town Me­mo­rial Sta­dium as the com­mu­nity shares in his be­lief that this is a great Bull­dog team for the 2017 sea­son.

“That sup­port from every­one in the com­mu­nity re­ally means a lot to us.” he said.

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