Canes top Cherokee to open '23 campaign; Colonels, Wildcats blanked in season openers
Cartersville quarterback Nate Russell threw three touchdown passes Friday night as the Purple Hurricanes beat visiting Cherokee at Weinman Stadium, 27-14.
Russell threw for two scores in the first half as Cartersville carried a 20-7 lead to the halftime intermission. He found Kendrick Price for a 38-yard touchdown midway through the first period and connected with Richard Houston for a 13-yard score with just 0:49 remaining in the half.
Cherokee Tanner Savasir tossed a 9-yard touchdown pass to Gracen Sexton late in the first quarter. The touchdown tied the score at 7-7 with 2:20 to go in the opening period.
Khristian Lando added a 4-yard touchdown run at the 4:38 mark of the second quarter, giving the Canes a 14-7 lead.
Early in the third quarter, Russell completed his third touchdown pass of the game. The 56-yard reception by Cayden Aleman built the Canes a 27-7 lead following kicker Ryan Johnson’s third PAT kick.
Cherokee added a fourth-quarter, 7-yard touchdown run by Savasir with only 3:10 remaining.
"We're going to focus on what we do," Foster said. "We're looking and seeing who was productive with their time, who probably needs to get more time, that'll be a big piece ... always early in the year, that's where you see a big jump, between weeks one and two and three, special teams reps clean up a lot.”
Cherokee (0-1) will host Etowah next Friday.
Cartersville (1-0) has a home game Friday against Jonesboro.
ROME 34, CASS 0
After a highly competitive first half Friday night the Class 6A 7th-ranked Rome Wolves imposed their will on the Cass Colonels in the second half to take total control in a 34-0 shutout win.
Rome led 14-0 at halftime but it seemed Cass had gained some momentum heading into the intermission with an impressive four-play, goal-line stand in the final minute of the half.
The Wolves, however, dominated the line of scrimmage in the second half on both sides of the ball and overpowered Cass in the final two periods.
Rome finished the night with 399 yards of total offense while limiting the Colonels to 147. The Wolves picked up 25 first downs in the contest while Cass only made eight.
Wolves’ quarterback Reece Fountain connected with Tinerius Stallings midway through the first quarter for the game’s first score. The 21-yard touchdown pass and reception capped an eight-play drive that covered 47 yards. The extra point kick by Jacob Fisher gave Rome a 7-0 lead.
Two possessions later Rome added to its lead.
A Wolves 64-yard drive took eight plays and was finalized with a five-yard touchdown pass from Fountain to Javarious McDearmont early in the second quarter. Another PAT by Fisher gave Rome a 14-0 advantage.
Following another exchange of possessions, Rome drove 53 yards to the Cass one-yard line in the final seconds of the first half. The Colonels defensive front held strong against a “heavy-set” formation by the Wolves and the goal line stand kept the score 14-0 at the intermission.
The Colonels had five offensive series in the first half. Two ended with fumbles, two with punts, and another turned over on downs. The offensive struggles were worse in the second half when seven possessions resulted in five punts and one interception.
Rome took the opening possession of the second half 63 yards on 10 plays to go ahead 20-0. Fountain connected with DeKaylon Daniel with a 17-yard touchdown pass. The extra point attempt failed.
In the fourth quarter, the Wolves leaned heavily on their running game.
Chance Arthur scored on a 2-yard run with 8:48 remaining in the game to cap a 12-play, 49-yard drive. The scoring play gave Rome a 27-0 lead following Fisher’s third successful PAT kick.
Just over six minutes later, McDearmont added a 9-yard touchdown run to finish off an 8-play, 53-yard scoring drive.
Fountain finished 19-for-24 through the air for 202 yards and three touchdowns. Nic Hester had nine catches for 59 yards. Daniel had six receptions for 87 yards and one touchdown.
Arthur led Rome’s rushing attack with 106 yards on 22 carries. McDearmont followed with 66 yards on 16 attempts.
Cass quarterback Brodie McWhorter finished 12-for-27 passing for 99 yards. He was intercepted once. Sacovie White had six catches for 57 yards and ran for 18 yards on four carries. Devin Henderson caught four passes for 36 yards and had two carries for 12 yards.
Defensively for the Colonels, Devin Henderson was credited with 15 tackles. Mason Tompkins followed with 14. Kevin Henderson and Malachi Harris added nine tackles each.
Rome (1-0) will host Lithonia next Friday.
Cass (0-1) will attempt to rebound next Friday night at Rockmart.
EAST PAULDING 49, WOODLAND 0
James Swift / The Daily Tribune News
Woodland began the 2023 football season with a 49-0 loss to East Paulding on Aug. 18.
The nominal “home” game was held at Tiger Stadium in Adairsville, as the Wildcats’ home turf was rendered unplayable due to vandalism from earlier this summer.
"First, I just want to give Adairsville all the credit that they deserve, just allowing us to play here and use their facilities," Woodland High Head Football Coach Brandon Haywood said. "I don't know if it affected the mental psyche of our kids not being at home, but we came out flat — I felt like we were flat this morning in the weight room, so I'm trying to stress to our kids that every detail matters and we've got to have some passion about what we do.”
East Paulding scored one touchdown in each of the first two periods to lead 14-0 at the intermission. The Raiders then struck for three scores in the third quarter for a 35-0 advantage and added two more touchdowns in the final stanza.
Baylor Thomason threw for three touchdowns while Chantz Bouknight added one more touchdown pass for the Raiders. East Paulding also had touchdown runs by Javen Parker, Eddy Ferguson, and Bouknight in the victory.
The Wildcats won the opening coin toss and elected to defer.
Isaiah Livsey recorded an interception for Woodland on the Raiders’ opening drive around midfield.
On third and long, the Wildcats got stuffed on a run play and Woodland punted the pigskin back to East Paulding.
The Raiders got on the scoreboard first via a 16-yard touchdown pass.
Woodland’s offense stalled out on their subsequent possession and the Wildcats’ punting unit once again took the field.
Dylan Carver picked up a loose East Paulding football and Woodland’s offense went back to business around midfield.
Working from the shotgun, quarterback Brelace Williams pushed Woodland into Raiders’ territory.
On fourth and three Woodland went for it. Devin Teasley took the ball and stomped down to the East Paulding 33-yard-line to convert.
On the very next play, however, Woodland fumbled the ball away and the Raiders recovered.
On fourth and inches, the Raiders converted.
East Paulding continued to march downfield, chewing up much of the second quarter clock.
On third and six near the Woodland 20, East Paulding didn’t quite get enough to move the chains — only for an offsides penalty against the Wildcats to give the Raiders a new set of downs.
On third and three at the Woodland five, the Raiders recorded their second touchdown of the evening with about six minutes left in the first half.
The Wildcats’ offense sputtered out near the team’s own 30-yard line and Woodland had to punt.
A Raiders’ field goal attempt was no good and Woodland had less than a minute left to work with before the first half expired.
East Paulding maintained a 14-0 lead heading into halftime.
"We lost three starters tonight, three pivotal starters," Haywood said. "We had depth issues, we were very problematic on getting people on and off the field — we went past the depth chart when it comes to injury, fatigue, cramping, all these different things that we faced ... you want to prepare for the best, but moving forward as a head coach I will do a better job of preparing for the worst and making sure I have my kids and coaches ready to follow suit.”
Woodland received the ball to begin the third quarter. Soon, the Wildcats stared down a fourth and long situation at midfield and the team had no choice but to punt.
The Raiders scored on their next possession on a long TD strike to make it 21-0 all, East Paulding.
The Raiders didn’t have to wait long for their next trip into the red zone, with another touchdown pass giving East Paulding a 28-0 lead.
After the Raiders went up 35-0 on a roughly 40-yard touchdown pass, the final outcome became inevitable … with yet another East Paulding touchdown in the early moments of the fourth quarter completely putting the game out of reach for Woodland.
East Paulding 49, Woodland 0 would prove to be the final score.
"You can dwell on it, you can mope about it, but that doesn't change anything that happened tonight," Haywood. "But you can change the outcome for the future by preparing better, by being physically motivated, and by being accountable and pushing our team in the right direction.”
Woodland is scheduled to travel to Coosa for a non-regional contest on Aug. 25.
"We've got to address some things offensively, I think our defense played well but we put them in uncompromised positions," Haywood said. "We had a horrible time trying to sustain drives tonight ... and defensively, we've got to continue to pursue, we've got some holes to fill, so we've got to make sure we get these younger kids coached up to do what's necessary to win."