Sports

September 6, 2013

No easy path to victory

Cats hit road for Calhoun, and Southeast, Coahulla look for 2-0 starts

(Continued)

Dade County (0-1) at North Murray (0-1)

The Mountaineers are another team hoping to eradicate a bad taste in their mouths.

North Murray spent this past Friday searching for answers in a 35-12 loss to Southeast, and now the team hopes to regain some of the offensive magic it had last season as it welcomes Dade County to Chatsworth.

The Mountaineers scored 57 points against the Wolverines in 2012, winning by 13 to clinch a 2-0 start and guarantee the best record in program history. North Murray had won just one game total in two previous varsity seasons before last year.

“I think we scored about 30 in the third quarter,” North Murray coach David Gann said.

And don’t think Dade County has forgotten, either.

“So hopefully they remember it and play better on defense,” Wolverines coach Bradley Warren said.

Dade County lost 19-13 last week to Alabama’s North Sand Mountain. The Wolverines return seven starters on defense and five on offense from last season, while the Mountaineers have three returning on defense and just two on offense.

“It’s pretty similar to the Dade County team we played last year,” Gann said. “Offensively, they’re a smash-mouth kind of football team and defensively they like getting to the ball.”

The loss to Southeast included many mistakes for the young North Murray team, which has just 10 seniors on the roster. After returning the opening kickoff for a touchdown, the Mountaineers only gained 170 yards on offense and allowed 323, including 250 on the ground.

“Our biggest problem right now is just ourselves,” Gann said. “I hate (saying) ‘We’re young and inexperienced’ because eventually that goes away.”

Gordon Central (0-1) at Southeast Whitfield (1-0)

The weather in northwest Georgia feels like mid-summer even though fall is weeks away, and high school football players are feeling the effects of that heat in practices and games.

Southeast coach Sean Gray’s Raiders — who are trying to start the season 2-0 for the first time since 1989 — will look for the offense to turn up the temperature against the Warriors tonight.

Gordon Central coach David Humphreys knows how much warm temperatures on game night— and thus, conditioning — can factor in as the clock rolls toward the fourth quarter. A mild summer didn’t give teams a chance to acclimate as well as some in the past.

“Last Friday was really the first time the humidity really jumped on us, and we really hadn’t practiced all summer in any kind of heat at all ... really until the last two days last week,” Humphreys said. “That took its toll on us a little bit, especially mentally.”

Gray’s defense turned it up a degree to hold North Murray to less than 200 total yards last week, something he hopes the team can continue. One of the defensive leaders against North Murray was senior linebacker Austin Allen, who led the team with 16 tackles.

“He’s an outstanding athlete. He’s very tough and physical,” Gray said of Allen, who also wrestles. “He hasn’t played until this season. Our entire defense really set the tone for the game. We swarmed to the football and we picked up right where we left off last year.”

With that strong defensive play, Gray is hoping for a continuation of opening night: a 35-point offensive output and a total team effort.

“We averaged 6 yards a play last week, and we ran the ball extremely well,” Gray said. “We had 12 different kids touch the football, and five different kids scored a touchdown. I feel like we really have some depth on the offensive side of the ball.”

— Compiled by sports writers Devin Golden and Chris Whitfield and correspondents Doug Hawley and Dave Gordon.

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