November 16, 2013

Northwest Whitfield's good season ends with loss in first round

Chris Whitfield

CARROLLTON — Northwest Whitfield High School’s football team didn’t necessarily do anything wrong.

Carrollton did just about everything right.

The Trojans — ranked No. 4 in the final Georgia Sports Writers Association poll of the regular season — scored on their first seven possessions, returned an interception for a touchdown and held the Bruins to 66 total yards in the first half. It all added up to a 52-10 Carrollton win Friday night at Grisham Stadium in the first round of the Class 4A state playoffs.

“They are definitely a great football team,” Northwest coach Josh Robinson said. “We made some mistakes that they took advantage of, but they are that good.”

The Bruins, the No. 3 seed from Region 7, ended their season with a 9-2 mark and finished as just the second team in the program’s history to win nine games in the regular season. Carrollton, one of the winningest programs in the state and the No. 2 seed from Region 5, improved to 10-1 and advances to face Monroe-Area (11-0), which won 68-39 against Banneker (5-5-1) in another first-round game Friday.

Things started about as well as the Bruins could have hoped when Andy Whisenant dropped the opening kickoff but picked it up at the 2-yard line and found a seam in Carrollton’s coverage. Whisenant was able to outrace the Trojans and gave the Bruins a 7-0 lead with 15 seconds gone in the game.

But Carrollton showed exactly what kind of night it would be on its first possession, playing nearly flawless out of its wing-T offense. The Trojans drove 80 yards in 10 plays and Jarvis Terrell broke through for a 27-yard run to the end zone and the extra point tied the game.

Northwest finally took its first offensive possession, and quarterback Caleb Shiflett tried to hit Whisenant on a tunnel screen, but a Carrollton lineman got a hand on it and Brandon Walton picked the pass off, returning it 31 yards for the score.

From there, the Trojans poured it on.

Even when Northwest and the first-half clock finally seemed to slow Carrollton down, the Trojans converted on a fake field goal with Will Garrett completing a 24-yard scoring pass to Walton as time expired. The Trojans led 42-7 at the end of the first half.

“They are really, really fundamentally sound,” Whisenant said. “They aren’t just a bunch of athletes. You could tell that they were really well-coached and fundamentally sound. It just makes them so much better that they have great athletes.”

Carrollton ended the night with 474 yards of total offense, including 360 on the ground.

Despite the loss, Robinson and his team made progress overall in his third season in charge. After losing in the 10th game last season with a spot in the state playoffs on the line, the Bruins advanced to the postseason for the first time since 2009.

“I am pleased with the coaching staff that we have and the players we have been putting on the field,” Robinson said. “We can do better, but this year we have taken the steps we needed to take to strengthen our entire program.”