Last year: Walton 24, Woodstock 7
All-time series: Walton leads 6-4
Prediction: Woodstock 21, Walton 17
In its opening game, Woodstock dominated Johns Creek, rolling up 300 yards of offense and forcing six turnovers on defense.
Since then, it’s been a different story.
In a loss to Harrison, the Wolverines were plagued by turnovers, bad snaps, penalties and a blocked punt, and it didn’t get any better against Kell.
“You have to get out there and practice and rep the stuff that you are trying to do,” he said. “Then it just comes down to execution on Friday. It doesn’t matter if you are in a spread or a power-I, it comes down to execution. When we execute, we are good. We have moved the ball. Turnovers have just hurt us.”
Tonight’s game at the Wolverine Den marks the region opener for both teams, but neither coach — Budde or Walton’s Rocky Hidalgo said the game is treated differently than non-region play.
“You don’t want to get behind right off the bat in region play,” Hidalgo said. “Any time you start region, it’s the most important season. It’s our chance to compete for a region championship.”
Hidalgo will get his first look at the Wolverines’ spread offense, but he said his team should be ready for it. Each of the teams Walton has played this season have run spread offenses. Walton fell to Peachtree Ridge and Hillgrove at neutral sites before upsetting North Cobb at home a week ago.
“We still have a lot of work to do,” Hidalgo said. “I felt like our third game was a big improvement over our first two and, hopefully, we can be consistent and put together another good game versus Woodstock.”
Hidalgo admitted that this Woodstock team is much different than the one the Raiders beat 24-7 a year ago.
“They are spreading it out and trying to get the ball to the perimeter,” Hidalgo said. “They are trying to be a little more dynamic than they have in the past. It’s definitely different for them, but this will be our fourth spread team in a row. It’s very similar to what we have seen.”
— By Emily Horos
Game: Cherokee (2-1) at Lassiter (1-2), 7:30 p.m.
Last year: Lassiter 41, Cherokee 6
All-time series: Lassiter leads 16-5
Prediction: Lassiter 24, Cherokee 20
This is when it counts.
Tonight’s Region 5AAAAAA opener between Cherokee and Lassiter at Frank Fillmann Stadium could be a stepping stone for both programs.
Cherokee (2-1) is showing signs of turning the corner following a 1-9 season in 2012.
In the second year of coach Josh Shaw’s tenure, and the second year since the program’s shift from its longstanding run-first mentality to a more balanced attack.
Quarterback Spencer Ashley is 54-for-84 for 647 yards through the air, and Blace Brown has 353 yards receiving. The Warriors haven’t abandoned the run, with top rushers Blake Johnston (321 yards) and Brittain Brown (205) having run for a combined 10 touchdowns.
Lassiter is still getting acclimated to new quarterback Will Anderson, who started to get his rhythm in the second half of last week’s 35-20 loss to Kell, when he nearly rallied the team from a 28-10 second-half deficit.
Prior to that rally, Lassiter’s receivers had a few dropped passes.
“We have to play better around him, but he’s getting better,” Lassiter coach Jep Irwin said. “We’re much better now than we were in Game 1 (in a 42-28 loss to McEachern). We’re running the ball more effectively.”
Tonight’s game is a battle that will likely come down to which offense can finish.
Lassiter has been more efficient rushing the ball this season, but it will miss Mason Waters for roughly two weeks with an ankle sprain, Irwin said. With Waters out, Lane Jackman will carry the bulk of the load.
— By Adam Carrington
Game: Etowah (3-0) at Wheeler (2-1), 7:30 p.m.
Last year: Etowah 31, Wheeler 27
All-time series: Wheeler leads 8-5
Prediction: Etowah 34, Wheeler 28
Etowah and Wheeler each have many goals for the 2013 season.
They include winning the Region 5AAAAAA title and making the state playoffs.
A win tonight would go a long way toward both of those goals.
“They are a very athletic team — very scary individual players,” Etowah coach Dave Svehla said. “We are going to have our work cut out for us, but I think our kids are excited for the challenge.”
Etowah is having a kind of success it hasn’t experienced in a number of years. The Eagles will try to go
4-0 for the first time in six years.
Both teams will put the ball in the hands of their veteran quarterbacks. The Wildcats’ Elijah Staley, who comes in as Cobb County’s leading passer, is a third-year starter at Wheeler, as is John Oliver at Etowah.
Wheeler is trying to rebound from its first loss of the year, a 37-28 loss to Langston Hughes.
“Sometimes, you learn more from a loss than you do from a win,” Collins said. “We have learned what we did wrong and, hopefully, we can get those things corrected and play a little better ballgame (tonight). Now, everybody is 0-0, and every win counts headed toward (the state playoffs). We don’t approach it any differently, but now our goals that we want to achieve are on the line every Friday night from here on out.”
— By Emily Horos