Last year: McNair 15, Osborne 14
All-time series: McNair leads 1-0
Prediction: Osborne 23, McNair 10
After its season opening 25-14 win against Chapel Hill, Osborne is hoping for its first 2-0 start in over a decade.
For the first time since 2001, the Cardinals (1-0) have a chance to start the seasn with a pair of wins as they host McNair on Friday. It is something coach Xarvia Smith said would be a big deal for the team and the school community.
“It would be big for our program,” he said. “It would be even bigger for our school. Our kids and staff have worked so hard this off-season. It would be a blessing for our community.”
However, Smith made it clear to his team that last week’s game is over, and their focus has to be on McNair, which is why he “ran them so hard on Monday.”
Also driving the Cardinals is the fact McNair scored on a punt return in the second half of last year’s game to steal a 15-14 victory against Osborne.
With two more games at home before their first away game of the season, Osborne will look to capitalize on the home-field advantage and come out with as many wins as possible to make up for all the travelling they did last year.
Before they can get more wins on the board, they have to take advantage of every scoring opportunity as Smith said, “We must do a better job in the (red) zone. We had the ball 10 times inside the (red) zone (in their scrimmage and home opener), but we are not scoring enough touchdowns.”
— By Ericka Birdsong
MDJ Sports Writer
Game: Kennesaw Mountain (0-0) at Sprayberry (0-1), 7:30 p.m.
Last year: Kennesaw Mountain 28, Sprayberry 24
All-time series: Kennesaw Mountain leads 4-3
Prediction: Kennesaw Mountain 35, Sprayberry 21
The bad news is Sprayberry hasn’t won a season opener since 2007. In fact, in those years, the Yellow Jackets haven’t won their second game either.
But, with three playoff appearances in the past five years, going 0-2 to start the season hasn’t crippled the Yellow Jackets chances of reaching the postseason. Although, it is a trend the program would like to change starting this week against Kennesaw Mountain.
The two teams’ history dates back to 2002, and they have met each year since 2010 with Sprayberry owning a 2-1 record. In order for the Yellow Jackets to pick up win No. 3, it will have to put on a better showing than the one it did last week against Wheeler, when the Wildcats built a 34-point halftime lead en route to a 44-14 victory.
“Our guys were in position to make tackles. They just didn’t,” Sprayberry coach Billy Shackelford said. “That’s a credit to the good athletes at Wheeler and to us just not finishing. We just didn’t do a good job of making tackles, and that’s one of the basic foundations and functions of good football.
“It was a combination of them playing really good and us playing really bad. They outcoached us and they outplayed us. We’ve made a commitment to get better.”
Meanwhile, Kennesaw Mountain recovered from a 0-10 record in 2011 to four victories last year — including winning the last three. The Mustangs are looking forward to their season opener Friday and have high expectations towards the outcome.
“We’re a better team than last year,” Kennesaw Mountain coach Andy Scott said. “We want to gain consistency with what we do and hope to show up Friday night and play well.”
— By Carlton D. White
Game: Woodland (Bartow) (0-1) at Allatoona (0-0), 7:30 p.m.
Last year: Allatoona 45, Woodland 20
All-time series: Allatoona leads 1-0
Prediction: Allatoona 24, Woodland 21
Allatoona begins its quest for it’s a fourth straight playoff appearance and second region championship when it hosts Woodland-Bartow on Friday.
With three returning starts on offense — D.J. Ezell, Josh Bettistea and Amir Moore — and one on defense — Justin Wade — is Allatoona ready for its first game?
“We’ve asked ourselves that question,” coach Gary Varner said. “I’ve never been around a team as young as this one in a varsity season without any reps. It’s pretty crazy. The one thing that this group has done is they’ve worked very hard. They give a good effort during practice, so there’s been no disappointment from their work ethic. We have the double issue of a lot of juniors and sophomores who are also brand new starters. But they work hard, and we’ll get a good idea of where we stand Friday.
“Until the lights go on, there’s going to be nerves and there’s going to be problems and issues early in the game. But can we learn from it quickly and can we adjust? Those are the things that are going to make the difference, and you won’t know until it happens.”
Offensively, Moore, a senior right guard, will be the lynchpin that keeps the unit going.
“He was a starter last year and he’s going to be the key offensively,” Varner said. “When you have five new starters on the offensive line — all five of them juniors — that’s a problem. So, Amir is going to be the calming influence and seeing and understanding what’s happening as far as the problems are. He has a big job ahead of him. He has to keep everybody calm and understanding what they’re doing. That’s the key.”
Defensively, it will be senior all-state linebacker Wade.
“Justin has to be the guy that lines us up, and makes sure guys don’t have their heads down when a bad play happens,” Varner said. “The bad thing is Woodland has already had a game, so they’ve been able to get the bad stuff out. They’ll come in a lot better than they were last week.
“We have confidence in (Moore and Wade) to lead us.”
— By Carlton D. White