Close Losses Plague Cedartown’s 2018 football season
Cedartown’s 2018 football season was one filled with streaks and alternating wins and losses. It included heartbreaking defeats and joy-filled victories.
Despite the season coming to an end last Friday in Atlanta by way of a 38-6 loss to St. Pius X, the 2018 Cedartown Bulldog football season had many successes.
Cedartown opened the season on the road on August 17, traveling to rival Rockmart in what would be chosen as the Fox 5 Game of the Week. The Bulldogs were hoping to extend their winning streak against the Yellow Jackets to 8-in-a-row, but thanks to an answered-prayer long touchdown pass to Juke Boozer in the final minute of the game, Rockmart was able to claim the victory by a score of 20-14.
This is the closest anyone has come to beating the Yellow Jackets all season, the team that is currently ranked number one in the state for Class AA football.
Rather than allowing the disappointment of the opening loss affect them, Cedartown took care of 6A Alexander of Douglasville in their home opener the next week, downing them 33-7.
Following another close loss to a stingy Bremen team 13-9, Cedartown would defend their home turf once more, obliterating Southeast Whitfield County 55-7. Senior running back Tony Mathis, Junior back Kobe Pryor, and Junior quarterback Taji Hudson led the rushing attack fearlessly in the win.
The Bulldogs opened region play against the Cartersville Canes on Sept. 21 at Doc Ayers Field. In a game where most regional analysts expected the Cartersville to pull away early, Cedartown’s defense was able to keep themselves in the game well after halftime.
Senior Zahquan Frazier was able to pick off quarterback Tee Webb and take it to the crib to give the Bulldogs the lead.
Unfortunately, the Canes were able to score in the fourth and hold on to win by the slimmest of margins, 21-20.
Six days afterwards, Cedartown found themselves traveling to Callaway Stadium to take on the LaGrange Grangers. On a rainy night filled with many turnovers, the Bulldogs were able to muscle out a win by a score of 9-6. Cedartown blew out Central of Carrollton at home 48-7 the next week to improve to 4-3 on the season.
After a well-deserved bye week, the Bulldogs traveled to LaGrange once again, this time to take on the highlyranked Troup County Tigers, who were led by quarterback and Auburn commit Kobe Hudson.
Once more, Cedartown’s defense was able to keep them in the game late, but the offense’s inability to score in the second half allowed Hudson to score on a goalline run which would prove to be the difference, as Troup County won 20-13.
The next week, Cedartown hosted Sandy Creek in a game that would decide the third seed in 5-AAAA. It was a back and forth brawl between two run-heavy offenses, but in the end the Patriots prevailed thanks mostly to two costly turnovers by the Bulldogs late in the game. Cedartown
fell 31-28, setting up a mustwin game the following week.
On Nov. 12, the 4-5 Cedartown Bulldogs traveled down I-20 East to Douglasville for a matchup with the 6-3 Chapel Hill Panthers. The winner clinched the fourth seed in the playoffs, and the loser’s season would end.
Cedartown seemingly shook off the anxiety of the previous week’s loss quickly, scoring 28 points in the second quarter and holding on to win 45-13. As fate would have it for the Bulldogs, they were paired up with an overpowering St. Pius X Golden Lions squad in the first round of the playoffs, and Cedartown’s season came to an end after the 38-6 loss in Chamblee.
Anyone who would look at Cedartown’s regular season schedule would see that each of their losses were extremely close - they lost all 5 regular season games by 21 points total and no loss was by more than 7 points.
The Bulldogs were very close to winning each of those games, but the last person that wants to hear that is Coach Doyle Kelley.
As he said after the Troup County loss, “We are a great football team. We do not like hearing that we ‘almost won a game’ or we ‘played well.’ Every guy in that locker room
wants to win the games, and if I ask a single one of them how they feel, they will not be happy that we lost. They wanted to win.”
Despite the disappointing end to the season, Coach Kelley assured that there would be no time off for the players. “We will be right back at it on Monday, preparing for next season.”
Over the offseason, Cedartown will look to replace quite a few seniors who put in work for four season and built a winning legacy within the program, including Dalton Bowman, Conrad Bristow, Tim Brown, Zahquan Frazier, Jerry Sandoval, and future West Virginia Mountaineer Tony Mathis. Even with these losses, the future looks bright for Cedartown football.
“There are over 20 juniors coming back next year, and they are some very talented guys,” Kelley said.
Some key contributors returning are Jayan Kent, Chadriq Neal, Will Pilgrim, Kobe Pryor, Jacob Rush, CJ Washington, and Rashad Walker. Expect the Bulldogs to avenge this season’s close losses next August when football season kicks off once again.