October 4, 2013

Chris Whitfield: Catamounts will pounce on Panthers


— During my career, I have stood on a lot of sidelines and seen a lot of injuries. Those sports fans who are like me and have a little age on them can remember the way Joe Theismann’s leg folded up on him when Lawrence Taylor hit him. We’ve all seen the replays of the Louisville men’s basketball player who snapped his leg in last year’s NCAA tournament.

I’ve seen players get knocked out, watched arms bend in unnatural ways and viewed plays where as you were watching them you told yourself, “This isn’t going to end well.” I’ve even been standing beside a photographer in a state championship game and heard the snap when his leg was broken as he was blindsided on a kickoff return.

Seeing the video replay of Dalton High School quarterback Jase Chastain’s injury at Cass made my joints ache. God bless you, Jase, and all of the other players out there who put their bodies through such pain in the name of a game as valiant representatives of our community.

On to the picks.

Last week, your Guru of Gridiron Guessing was 6-1, taking my season record to 20-8. By tonight, every team in the area will be into either its region or sub-region schedule, so it is time to get serious.

Game of the Week — Ridgeland at Dalton: This isn’t last year’s Ridgeland team or the year before or even the year before that. This is a Ridgeland team that needs to make some sort of statement because right now the Panthers’ statement is that they have lost three of their first four games.

Now, like Dalton, some of Ridgeland’s defeats can be chalked up as “quality” losses, but neither Catamounts coach Matt Land nor Ridgeland coach Mark Mariakis will agree with that. For them, a loss is a loss, and they both expect more from their programs. They don’t believe in moral victories.

For both teams, this could be a defining week. People are wondering which Dalton team is the true Dalton team. Is it the team that did exactly what it was supposed to do against Gilmer and Cass, or is it the team that lost to Ringgold?

Either way, Dalton is a much better team than three weeks ago, and the improvements are showing each Friday. As long as teams can’t stop Kelvis Rhodes, the offense will be just fine.

I’m not ready to raise the “Go Big Red” flag at the top of the region championship pole, but Ridgeland will be taking its flag down this year.

Whit’s Pick: Dalton 35, Ridgeland 14

Northwest Whitfield at Heritage-Catoosa: The other two Sub-region 7B-4A games aren’t very intriguing and should be yawners for their respective fan bases.

Keep chanting my name, Bruins fans! But remember this: a loss this week takes a lot of the swagger out of next week’s game with the Cats.

Whit’s Picks: Northwest 52, Heritage 13

Southeast Whitfield at LaFayette: Taking that long ride to see the Ramblers should be about the only thing that the Raiders have to worry about this week.

If the Raiders can get some consistency on offense and if their defense has shaken its Nick Chubb hangover, Southeast is a viable threat in this sub-region race.

Whit’s Pick: Southeast 34, LaFayette 7

Christian Heritage at Gordon Lee: Two weeks ago, this looked like an intriguing game that perhaps would be a big test for the Lions, and we all know what a bad test-taker Preston Poag was in high school. (How did he ever get into N.C. State?)

But after Gordon Lee’s loss to Whitefield Academy (they spell the name right, by the way), the test has gone from being multiple choice with five essay questions to nothing but true-or-false answers.

Whit’s Pick: Christian Heritage 38, Gordon Lee 13

Gordon Central at Coahulla Creek: It’s time to get win No. 2, Colts, and in Gordon Central you have the perfect guest.

Why wasn’t this the homecoming game?

Whit’s Pick: Coahulla Creek 28, Gordon Central 7

North Murray at Adairsville: North Murray’s chances at making the playoffs took a huge hit with last week’s loss to Sonoraville.

Unfortunately, Mountaineers fans, it doesn’t get much easier as the season plays out.

Whit’s Pick: Adairsville 38, North Murray 21



Chris Whitfield is a sports writer for The Daily Citizen and is sorry he couldn’t agitate Northwest fans more this week. Maybe next week. You can write to him at chriswhitfield@daltoncitizen.com.