Sports

August 23, 2013

Chris Whitfield: Dalton ‘D’ must pick up its pace

Welcome back, gentle reader, to another season of joy and kindness on local high school football fields. There are no losers here. We are all winners. At the end of the season, everyone will get a trophy, mothers will coordinate pizza parties and we will all be one big happy community cheering each other along. There will be no petty jealousies, no walls between us and no malice in our hearts no matter how bitter of a rival we may be playing.

Welcome to feel-good football.

What?!

In the South, prep football isn’t do-or-die. It’s more important than that, and this isn’t the place for kindness or some sort of new-age gentle touch.

It is time for rib-rockers and slobber-knockers. It is time for 1st-and-10, let’s do it again. It is time for bells to be rung (literally and figuratively) and the national anthem to be sung. It’s time for kickoff, picked off and ticked off. It’s time to have a little fun and cheer on your son.

And it is time for me to start generating letters to the editor and calls to The Forum.

For the fourth season in a row, the pages of The Daily Citizen will once again be graced with the prep pigskin prognostications of the Guru of Gridiron Guessing. My picks will amuse you, entertain you, make you mad and maybe even have you sending Kool-Aid packets to 308 S. Thornton Ave.

Come back each week. I guarantee by the end of the year, some will be calling me a Dalton “homer” and others will be calling me a Catamounts “hater.” One week I will be Northwest Whitfield coach Josh Robinson’s best friend, and the next I will be afraid to show my face in Tunnel Hill. Either way, I am still not going to like Lions. Whoops, that comment doesn’t truly show the Christian heritage of my forefathers.

The show is ready to begin.

Let’s lift the curtain on a new high school football season.

Game of the Week/Only Game of the Week — Ringgold at Dalton: Missing players or not, treating it like a true game or not, let’s be honest, Dalton fans. The Cats looked woefully outgunned last week against Adairsville in the preseason scrimmage.

I don’t care how good Eder Mora and Kelvis Rhodes are (and trust me, I have a very high opinion of both players), but if you are telling me four or five players make that big of a difference, then all I can say is that Dalton is three injuries away from having a very mediocre season.

Still, without those players Dalton’s offense looked anemic and the defense couldn’t seem to tackle anyone. I get it if you are slower than the other team or the other team is just better than you, but historically a Dalton defense doesn’t tackle that poorly. Someone needs to give me a bunch of up-downs for all of the missed tackles.

Perhaps the poor performance opened some eyes and forced some corrections.

Last year, Dalton needed some last-second luck to avoid a loss at Ringgold, but the Cats got it and moved their all-time record to 43-1 against the Tigers. A lot of Dalton fans are pointing to their history of success against Ringgold like it can carry the team past the Tigers. I’m not buying that.

Dalton was 18-0 against Ridgeland but has lost the past three meetings with the Panthers, although one of those was a forfeit. Cass had lost eight straight games to Dalton before embarrassing the Cats 35-6 last year at Bill Chappell Stadium at Harmon Field.

But most of the time, the home field is very good to Dalton, and if those starters are back in the lineup tonight, the Cats should be solid enough to get the job done.

Whit’s Pick: Dalton 31, Ringgold 24

Chris Whitfield is a sports writer for The Daily Citizen. You can write to him at chriswhitfield@daltoncitizen.com.

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