September 27, 2013

Chris Whitfield: Cushion was there after a picking ‘fall’


— Sometimes sitting in this chair every week can come with a few nagging pains in the back. You sit at your desk with your spine just a little out of line, and the next thing you know, you’re at the chiropractor’s office getting bent and folded over into some sort of origami swan.

When you are living under the stress of trying to turn every Southeast Whitfield fan’s face into a Big Red volcano and you buck years of tradition by picking Dalton to win by less than four touchdowns (or heaven forbid, actually lose a game), a back injury just piles on the discomfort.

But thankfully, someone cares and is a big fan of your Guru of Gridiron Guessing.

Last week I picked Christian Heritage to score 34 points. I was only off by a touchdown as the Lions scored 41. The only problem is that I was 42 points off on how many points Fellowship Christian would score.

Oops.

But knowing the back problems associated with this job, a lovely Christian Heritage lady was there to provide support after I interviewed the evil genius Preston Poag. (Poag said I had to call him a genius after I missed my pick. Half right, Preston.) Karen Townsend, the mother of  Lions linebacker Evan Townsend — the area’s leading tackler, with 51 total — was beaming as I came off the field, clutching her Christian Heritage stadium cushion.

She turned the cushion around so I could see that she had Sharpied “CHS 41, Fellow-ship 0.” She is such a big fan, she asked for an autograph. Then she gave me the souvenir as a reminder of my ineptitude. It now occupies a prominent place on my desk.

Last week wasn’t stellar as I went 3-3 with my picks, but I know more than a couple of teams that would love to be at .500 after six games.

I went out on a very shaky limb by picking both Murray County and Coahulla Creek to win. Little did I know both of those teams were wielding chainsaws, and not only did they cut the limb off, but they also cut their own legs off.

Losing is one thing, but the Indians and the Colts combined to give up 82 (82!) points — to teams that came into the game without a win between them.

For the year, I’m 14-7 in my prep pigskin prognostications. Let’s press on, shall we.

Game of the Week — River Ridge at Northwest Whitfield: Bruins fans have been gloating a lot about the prowess of their defense when it comes to forcing turnovers. They like to point to the six takeaways in the Pickens game. That number is impressive, but two botched handoffs and an interception on a pass so poorly underthrown that my 7-year-old could have cradled it in is not “forcing” turnovers.

This week, the Bruins host Cherokee County’s newest school, River Ridge, and the Knights come in with a 1-3 record. That was the same way they started last season. Northwest beat River Ridge 35-21 last year, but the Knights went undefeated in sub-region competition, played for the region title and advanced to the state playoffs while the Bruins missed out on the postseason for the third year in a row.

I’m not buying all of the “We’re going to play Cedartown for the region title” talk from Northwest fans just yet.

However, the Bruins should be able to begin their Sub-region 7B-4A schedule next week with a lot of confidence and an unblemished record.

Whit’s Pick: Northwest 42, River Ridge 17

Dalton at Cass: The Catamounts found their missing offense last week, but the bad news is that it is still one-dimensional. A strong running game will beat a lot of teams around here, and Kelvis Rhodes is certainly the best running back north of Cedartown’s Nick Chubb.

But if the Cats have aspirations of higher things, the passing game has to grow up.

Quickly.

Fortunately for Dalton, Cass is still in its 12-step recovery after this past summer’s drug intervention by Bartow County law enforcement agencies.

Whit’s Pick: Dalton 42, Cass 13

Cedartown at Southeast Whitfield: Chubb, Cedartown’s all-everything running back, doesn’t run in conventional 40-yard dash times, he is clocked in miles per hour. That equated to a pair of wins by the Bulldogs against the Raiders last year.

The bad news for Southeast is that Cedartown has more options than last year and isn’t relying solely on Chubb left, Chubb right, Chubb up the middle in 2013. The Raiders’ defense has been strong this season, but Southeast has two wins against struggling teams and one loss to a mediocre team. I think the defense has a good shot at limiting Chubb, but the offense is a problem.

Southeast managed just 17 points against Gordon Central. Think about this, Raiders fans: Murray County scored 14 against the same team.

You better hope some improvements were made in the off week or this could get out of hand.

Whit’s Pick: Cedartown 40, Southeast 17

Christian Heritage at Mt. Zion-Carroll: No matter what the Lions’ defense does, this offense can score a lot of points

But the defense is pretty good, too.

Sorry, I’m not giving you any ammunition this week, Lions fans.

Whit’s Pick: Christian Heritage 42, Mt. Zion 7

Coahulla Creek at Cartersville: Basically, I am saying that North Murray is eight points better than Coahulla Creek.

Whit’s Pick: Cartersville 55, Coahulla Creek 7

Sonoraville at North Murray: This is essentially a playoff game because the winner of this likely has the inside track to the No. 4 seed in Region 5-3A. Time to grow up, Mountaineers.

Whit’s Pick: North Murray 15, Sonoraville 14

Chattooga at Murray County: The boys in green are going to have to prove a lot of things before I pick them to win two weeks in a row.

Whit’s Pick: Chattooga 28, Murray County 6



Chris Whitfield is a sports writer for The Daily Citizen. His back is feeling much better. You can write him at chriswhitfield@daltoncitizen.com.