August 16, 2013

Missing several, Cats lack execution

Chris Whitfield

— In a high school football scrimmage between the red of Dalton and the green of Adairsville, the most important color was khaki.

At least six Dalton starters — including junior standouts Eder Mora and Kelvis Rhodes — were wearing that color of pants as they were held out of Thursday’s action because of injuries.

While none of those players are expected to miss the season opener against Ringgold a week from today, their absence showed against Adairsville. The Catamounts’ offense couldn’t find any rhythm until late in the preseason matchup, and Dalton’s defense looked out of sync against the spread-option offense of the Tigers.

Varsity played the first half, with both teams given 1 minute, 30 seconds to run their hurry-up offenses at the end of the half. Junior varsity players went against each other in the third quarter, with freshman players facing off in the fourth.

At the end of the first half, Adairsville held a 21-7 advantage, with Dalton having been shut out during the regular play portion of the event and both teams scoring once each during the two-minute drill workouts.

“I am not happy with penalties and fumbles and 99-yard touchdown runs by opposing quarterbacks given up by our defense,” Dalton coach Matt Land said. “It would be an overstatement to say that I was pleased with many of the things we saw tonight.

“I was pleased that our defense was flying to the ball, but I was not pleased with our tackling when we got there. I was pleased that our offensive line was firing off of the ball, but I was not pleased that they weren’t sustaining their blocks. All of the things that I was pleased with were offset by other things that didn’t please me.”

One thing Land can hope is that the players on the sidelines will be able to bring some more continuity on both sides of the ball. Mora was the team’s leading tackler last year and also saw time at fullback. Rhodes rushed for nearly 1,600 yards. Also, senior linemen Jordan Keener, Juan Pacheco and Chase Todd were among those held out.

When pressed on why those players were held out against the Tigers, Land blamed injuries but wouldn’t give specifics.

“All are just bumps and bruises,” he said. “All of the guys that were held out are proven players for us and we know what they can do, so there was no point in playing those guys. We will make sure they are ready next Friday.”

Among the players on the field, the biggest battle is at quarterback, where junior Peyton Veraldi and sophomore Jase Chastain are vying for playing time.

Veraldi took more snaps, rushing for 18 yards on a pair of carries, hitting on 7 of 9 passes for 64 yards and running the team through its hurry-up offense.

Chastain had two carries for 14 yards and completed one pass for negative yardage.