Dalton High School Catamounts

November 15, 2013

Ready for the first round

Forcing mistakes key for Catamounts

Last year, Dalton overcame Carver-Atlanta’s athleticism in the first round of the Class 4A high school football state playoffs by forcing prolonged possessions that created more chances for the Panthers to make mistakes.

The Catamounts may need a similar strategy for another appearance in the second round this season.

Dalton (8-2) knows Alexander (6-4) has athletes capable of turning any play into a long touchdown, so finding a way to limit and contain those big plays will be key for the Cats in tonight’s first-round matchup at Harmon Field, where kickoff is set for 7:30.

Dalton is a No. 1 seed after winning the Region 7-4A title, while the Cougars are the No. 4 seed from Region 5. The winner of this game advances to face the winner of tonight’s matchup between Lanier and Carver — which Alexander beat 49-13 earlier this season — in the second round.

In last year’s matchup with the Cats in Atlanta, Carver committed 13 penalties and Dalton left with a 17-14 win, its first in the playoffs since 2005 and its first postseason victory at an opponent’s stadium since 1992. Those 13 penalties helped stall quite a few possessions for Carver, which entered with 3,000 rushing yards during the regular season but only had one lengthy offensive play against Dalton, an 89-yard touchdown run in the first quarter.

Against another athletic Atlanta-area team, the Cats will try to test their opponents’ patience again.

“We believe that in high school football it’s a chore to drive 10 and 12 plays,” Dalton coach Matt Land said. “You just don’t have many teams that can do that.”

Douglasville’s Alexander won the final two games of the regular season to clinch a postseason berth for the first time since 1997, which was also the last winning season for the program before this year. Coach Matthew Combs, who’s in his fourth season as the Cougars’ coach, guides a team that has scored an average of 32.3 points per game in 2013.

“Going into the beginning of the season, we knew we had the ability to score,” Combs said. “We knew we had the pieces.”

Mikell Lands-Davis, a junior running back, has 220 carries for 1,759 yards and 21 touchdowns, according to statistics listed at maxpreps.com. Quarterback Baylor Whitfield, a sophomore, has passed for 1,221 yards and 15 touchdowns with seven interceptions. Before the season, Combs moved Brian Dansereau from quarterback to receiver, and he has 546 receiving yards and 10 total touchdowns.

“They’re by far the best team we’ve played all year,” Land said. “Notoriously, when we play Atlanta teams, speed is their advantage, so we don’t want to put ourselves in a track meet with them.”

Combs said any team that wins eight games is “no slouch,” and Dalton’s defense proves that true. The Cats — who have won eight in a row since dropping back-to-back games to Ringgold and Calhoun to start the season — have shut out four opponents this year and allowed just 13 points total in their previous four games.

“(Alexander) is going to have some size and speed that we haven’t seen since last year,” Dalton senior linebacker Lyle Durham said. “We’ll have to get used to that.”

The most impressive result from Alexander’s resumé may be one of the four losses. Ahead 42-38 early in the fourth quarter against Sandy Creek — the 2012 Class 4A state champion, current Region 5 champion and the top-ranked team in the Georgia Sports Writers Association’s Class 4A poll — Alexander lost 52-42 in the closest game undefeated Sandy Creek has had this season.

Alexander’s other losses came against Class 5A’s McIntosh, 21-7, and region foes Troup, 37-10, and Carrollton, 63-21. All three made the state playoffs in their respective classifications. Carrollton finished second in Region 5-4A, while Troup finished third.

“I think there’s an old saying about being battle-tested,” Combs said. “I think playing those types of games may help you if you’re playing the same team a second time. ... Have we played good football teams? Yes. Have we played other football teams? Yes. From looking at the film on Dalton, they have played some tough football games. Maybe they don’t have the prestige behind their opponents, but they have.”

Dalton junior tailback Kelvis Rhodes twice left last week’s region championship victory against Gilmer because of injury, but Land said he will play. Rhodes has accounted for 852 yards rushing on 115 carries and 16 total touchdowns. He missed the first two games this season with a shoulder injury.

1
Text Only
Dalton High School Catamounts
  • NW at DHS baseball (g3) 1 mlh.jpg Whatever it takes

    Northwest Whitfield High School’s baseball team has been successful this season. But at the same time, no one said success would be easy.
    Several times this year, the Bruins have fallen behind early in the first few innings before answering with a rally to ensure the wins keep coming. On Friday, that formula delivered a Sub-region 7B-4A championship for the second year in a row.

    April 12, 2014 1 Photo

  • DHS at SE soccer 7 mlh.jpg Prep Roundup: Unbeaten streak rolls on for Cats

    Replicating the start of last year’s Class 4A state title match, Dalton High School’s boys soccer team needed just four minutes to score its first goal at Southeast Whitfield on Friday.
    The Catamounts scored five more — and again defended their crown of dominance in the sport.

    April 12, 2014 1 Photo

  • Prep Roundup: Bruins power past Cats for key victory at home

    TUNNEL HILL — Similar to Wednesday’s Sub-region 7B-4A baseball series opener at Dalton High School, Northwest Whitfield fell behind early Thursday versus the Catamounts.

    April 11, 2014

  • NW at SE baseball 7   mlh.jpg Prep Baseball: Looking for a leader

    Dalton High School baseball coach Shane Ramsey only needed one word to sum up what he expects from this week’s three-game series with Sub-region 7B-4A foe and intracounty rival Northwest Whitfield.
    “Intensity,” he said. “If you can’t get up for this series, then why are you playing?”

    April 8, 2014 1 Photo

  • Prep Roundup: Dalton golf teams in form at Fields Ferry

    Even in wet and muddy conditions, both the Dalton High School boys and girls golf teams are sharpening their games at the right time.
    With the Region 7-4A tournament scheduled in two weeks, both the Catamounts and the Lady Cats finished second during play at the Fields Ferry Invitational in Calhoun on Monday. Despite the soggy conditions, Dalton’s Jacob Brown tied for medalist honors with a 2-over par 74 to lead the Cats to a 313 combined score in the six-play, four-score format. Dalton finished three strokes behind tournament winner LaFayette.

    April 8, 2014

  • Wrestler of the year 2014 2 mlh.jpg All-Area Wrestling Team and Wrestler of the Year: Winning another title was the only goal for Wheeler

    When Dalton High School wrestler Sidney Wheeler won a state title for the first time two years ago as a sophomore, he admitted he became a little complacent about what it would take to replicate the feat — perhaps not noticeably so to most observers, but enough to take success for granted. Wheeler believed it a matter of course that he would win state again, and he thought the second title would simply be the middle child in a high school three-peat.

    April 6, 2014 1 Photo

  • Prep Roundup: Behr finds his stroke in Vidalia

    Dalton High School golfer Allen Behr shot a 3-under-par 69 during the second day of the Indian Invitational in Vidalia to lead the Catamounts to a top-10 finish in the event Saturday.

    April 6, 2014

  • dhs v lafayette baseball1.jpg Out of control victory

    Dalton and LaFayette high schools are on spring break this week, and on Monday their baseball teams’ pitching took a vacation when it came to throwing strikes.
    The teams combined for 14 walks and four hit batters in a Sub-region 7B-4A game at Dalton, although most of the damage belonged to the host Catamounts, who won 5-4 despite their control problems.

    April 1, 2014 1 Photo

  • dhs baseball signing sane1.jpg Prep Baseball: Sane taking his drive to Chattanooga State

    Grant Sane isn’t a player who is concerned with his stats or his individual accomplishments. He is more interested in doing whatever he can do for his Dalton High School baseball team to be successful.

    March 27, 2014 1 Photo

  • Ridgeland at DHS baseball 3 mlh.jpg Sharp enough to win

    Dalton High School freshman pitcher Sam Stepp found himself in a jam a lot during Wednesday’s home game against Ridgeland.
    He always found a way out.

    March 27, 2014 1 Photo