North Murray (1-2)
at Cartersville (3-0)
Getting a win last week was big for the Mountaineers — especially considering who they face next.
The Purple Hurricanes are ranked third in the Georgia Sports Writers Association’s Class 3A poll, have won 16 of their past 17 games starting with the 2012 season opener and reached the state semifinals a year ago.
North Murray beat Johnson-Gainesville 34-7 last week for its first victory this season. With Cartersville and the rest of the Region 5-3A schedule looming, getting the first victory became a priority, Mountaineers coach David Gann said.
“Anytime you can get a win, whether it was a scrimmage game or a non-region game, it’s important for confidence for the kids,” Gann said. “We needed that win for confidence and to show what can happen when you eliminate a lot of mistakes.”
North Murray led 14-6 midway through the third quarter of last year’s game against Cartersville, but the Purple Hurricanes scored 34 straight points and won 40-22. Quarterback Brooks Barden, the son of Cartersville coach Frank Barden, is back for his senior season.
“We are going to try and bring pressure because he is the type of kid if you let him sit back and throw, then he’ll tear you up,” Gann said.
North Murray running back Drake McCowan (234 yards on 45 carries) and quarterback Hinton McConkey (214 yards on 31 carries) have keyed the Mountaineers’ rushing attack. But Gann expects Cartersville to stack the line and force the Mountaineers’ option-heavy offense to pass.
at Cass (2-1)
Ahead 17-9 in the fourth quarter and attempting a 29-yard field goal, Northwest seemed to have last year’s game against Cass in control — and the Bruins appeared headed for victory.
Then Cass blocked the kick and returned it for a touchdown, and the Colonels grabbed momentum and a 25-17 win. The win was the first in the series for Cass, which lost the previous 10 meetings with Northwest.
“Obviously the blocked kick was disappointing, but I was more disappointed with how our team responded after that,” Bruins coach Josh Robinson said. “For us, last year’s loss to Cass was probably one of the biggest disappointments of the year.”
This season has started the exact same for both teams as in 2012, with the Bruins winning their first two games and the Colonels starting 2-1 with their loss to Cartersville.
But this year, Northwest would like to make its third game different and the Bruins hope to avoid any late-game letdowns.
After Northwest enjoyed some early offensive success in last week’s 25-13 win against Pickens, the Dragons adjusted on defense by blitzing, which caused trouble for the Bruins. They overcame it eventually by turning to zone read option plays for quarterback Caleb Shiflett, but Robinson wouldn’t be surprised to see other teams take the same approach.
“I feel like after last week people have seen that kind of success from blitzing and I think they’ll go man-to-man and come after us or go zone and come after us,” Robinson said. “We have to be prepared for what they could do on defense.”
Cass coach Rick Casko said his team is preparing for Northwest’s fast-paced, no-huddle offense.
“It’s like anything where you have to prepare for it,” he said. “You have to get lined up quick and get in position, or they have the skill-position players to hurt you.”