In an east Cobb showdown at Lassiter, the Trojans dethroned Walton 21-9, beating their crosstown rival for the first time since 2009. Although Lassiter remains undefeated through its first six games, and is now in the driver’s seat to win Region 5AAAAAA, coach Jep Irwin said it doesn’t exactly signal a changing of the guard.
“It was a good game, and it was an important game, but I don’t think you can make any long-term predictions about it,” he said. “I don’t think you can say anything like that. This year, we got the best of them, and it’s an important win for us. It’s a big step for our program, but I don’t think it signals a big change. (Walton has) had a good program for a number of years.
“We’re going on five years of playing good football. I don’t think it was the end of an era or anything like that.”
However, it’s hard to undervalue what the victory meant to the Lassiter program. After losing twice to Walton last year, including the state semifinals, it wasn’t hard to get the Trojans motivated to play Friday.
“As coaches, you like to say that every game is the same,” Irwin said. “But we were honest with the kids. We’d been thinking about the (Walton) game a long time. Any time you get that close to the state championship, especially since it was our rival, it means something.
“Any time you get close to beating them, and get that close to state championship, it can motivate you to lift a little harder, run a little harder and maybe give more effort. It’s easier to motivate your team than if you had an undefeated regular season and a state championship (appearance).”
Although much of the attention Friday went to Lassiter’s victory over Walton, South Cobb won to improve its record to 6-0 with a win over cross-county rival North Cobb.
Coming into Friday’s game, North Cobb had won four of the last five games in the series. On top of that, the Warriors led 14-0 to start the game.
But like many of the South Cobb’s other wins this season, the Eagles stormed back to tie the game early in the fourth quarter on a 72-yard run from Chauncey Ingram. On top of that, they made a defensive stand after an interception was returned deep into South Cobb territory.
But as it has done with all of the adversity it’s faced this season, South Cobb handled it and moved on with a win.
“We were behind in six of them last year at halftime,” South Cobb coach Ed Koester sad. “I think the talents that each of our kids have give them faith that a big play can happen at any time.
“I don’t know that there has been a game at South ever that has been easy.”
Koester also said that much of the reason for his team’s success this year has come due to an increase of talent in the area — something that just happens during different cycles year by year.
“It shifts indiscriminately,” he said. “South Cobb had been pretty good toward the end of (Scott) Jones’ stay. Shane (Queen) was on that staff and had a couple of down years when they first moved from (Class) AAAA to AAAAAA. Then, we hit a slump there. Our guys weren’t as big. They weren’t as fast, and they weren’t as strong.
“We have a couple of big kids, and some kids that could run pretty well, now. So, we’re back to playing some pretty good football. The core of our coaching staff has been together for four or five years. I think that’s a big part of it.”
So, what’s more important — the cycle of talent in a community or the ability of its coaching staff?
“Coaching,” Koester joked. “That’s why they pay us so much money.
“On Friday night, if the kids win, talent is more important. On Friday night, if we lose, then coaching is more important. The kids, you love ’em, you train ’em and try to guide ’em and hope they play their best. It’s a crazy world. I’m just happy to be a part of those kids’ lives for the few years that they are in school.”
Around the rest of the county, Harrison held off Due West rival Kennesaw Mountain 17-14 to move to 4-2 for the season, ahead of its bye week. After trailing early, Allatoona went on to win 41-13 against the first-year varsity program of New Manchester’s.
After losing consecutive games through the first three weeks of the season, Hillgrove has rebounded to win consecutive shutouts, beating Pebblebrook 37-0.
Additionally, Wheeler edged Roswell 17-14, and with that win, the Wildcats stayed alive for a chance to play for the postseason.