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Hughes, Colonels preparing for 2017 campaign

The Cass High School football team won three of its first four games in 2016 with a narrow home loss to Sonoraville surrounded by wins over Adairsville, Woodland, and Hiram. The Colonels then lost six consecutive region games to close the season with a 3-7 overall record and were 2-6 in the powerful Region 7-AAAAA.

“We play in a monster region,” Cass head coach Bobby Hughes stated. “We don’t have a lot of room for error in our region schedule. With that said, we lost three games last year in the final two minutes, so our focus this off-season has been to finish games and be even better prepared than ever — physically and mentally.”

Region 7-AAAAA was arguably one of the state’s best leagues in any classification last year.

Rome won the Class 5A state championship, Carrollton was in the state semifinals, and Kell reached the state quarterfinals.

“I expect the pre-season polls to have three teams from our league in the top ten,” said Hughes. “Rome, Kell, and Carrollton could be ranked in the top five and then there are five or six more really good teams in our region.”

Hughes points to defending champ Rome as the team to beat in the league.

“Rome is loaded with talent,” he noted. “Their defense is exceptional. At last count they have seven or eight players on the defensive side of the ball with college scholarship offers already.”

In order to compete at such a high level, Hughes says the Cass program has amped up their off-season work even more.

“Our off-season work has been better than it has ever been. Our guys understand we have to do everything we can to get bigger in the weight room, faster, stronger, and bring our best effort. We talk about controlling the things we can control. We can’t control what the opponent does or what an official calls or doesn’t call. We can’t control the weather. We simply have to take control of ourselves and make that work to our advantage.”

As a result of their off-season and summer work, Hughes says his troops are excited about their accomplishments, progress, and for the season to come.

“I think we’ve been able to create more depth this off-season,” Hughes reflected. “We saw steady growth physically in the weight room and on the practice field. Our camps this summer — both in pads and with the 7-on-7s — helped with the depth development and it will help that we are returning a lot of experience on defense.”

The Colonels’ defense will be led by linebacker Tripp Breeden (5-11, 205, Sr.). Breeden, who recently broke the school’s all-time bench record at 385 pounds, is a state champion wrestler and will be the team’s defensive signal caller. He will be flanked by linebackers Reed Davis (Soph.) and Beau Smith (5-9, 180, Jr.).

Up front the Cass defense will feature defensive ends Rodney Richards (5-9, 210, Jr.) and Tyreese Dawson (5-8, 175, Sr.), along with senior defensive lineman Zach Hall (6-1, 270). Hughes referred to Richards as ‘a real difference-maker’ on defense.

It is the Colonels’ defensive secondary that returns the most experience and plenty of athleticism.

Macland Shay (5-10, 170, Jr.) and Demarco Moore (5-9, 170, Sr.) will hold down the corners for Cass. Cameron Gonyea (6-2, 192, Sr.) and Evan Hinton (6-3, 190, Sr.) will handle the safety positions.

“We are bigger and longer than we’ve ever been in the secondary,” noted Hughes. “That’s a good group, we just need to continue working to develop some depth back there.”

On the other side of the ball, Hughes’ squad is looking to develop more cohesiveness with his offensive line.

“The O-line is basically new with Seven Richards (6-0, 260, Sr.) returning to anchor that group,” said the Cass head coach. “Johnny Bootz (6-2, 250, Soph.), Brandan Rampey (6-0, 240, Sr.), and Dalton Southern (Jr.) have improved in the off-season and will have to be leaders up there.”

The Cass offensive front will try to clear the path for an experienced collection of skill-position players.

Thomas Gilliam (5-9, 190, Jr.) and Ahijah Blackwell (5-8, 155, Soph) return at running back and Hughes will utilize Malik Grimes (5-6, 150, Jr.) along with Gonyea and Demarco Moore in the slot.

“Demarco (Moore) and Cameron (Gonyea) are a couple of guys we will find ways to get on both sides of the ball,” Hughes added.

Hughes also expects to utilize a pair of quarterback to begin the year.

“Rett Moore (5-10, 170, Jr.) and Logan Nelson (5-11, 155, Soph) will both see time at quarterback,” said Hughes. “We want to see both of them in game situations.”

The Colonels’ kicking game returns placekicker and star soccer player Anthony Robledo (5-5, 140). The senior is expected to also compete with others this Fall for time as the team’s punter.

Cass will host Pepperell on Friday, August 18 at 7:30pm in both teams’ official GHSA pre-season scrimmage. The Colonels will then host Adairsville for their regular season opener August 25 and travel to Sonoraville September 1 to wrap up the non-league games prior to playing their grueling eight-game region slate.



Sept. 1 — at Sonoraville

Sept. 8 — WOODLAND

Sept. 15 — at Hiram

Sept. 22 — at Kell

Sept. 29 — open date


Oct. 13 — at Rome

Oct. 20 — at Paulding County

Oct. 27 — VILLA RICA


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