Last year: Pope 14, Sprayberry 12
All-time series: Pope leads 12-5
Prediction: Pope 35, Sprayberry 28
While every game is big for both teams from this point on, Friday’s “East Cobb Clash,” between Pope and Sprayberry is critical for both teams.
A Pope victory would put the Greyhounds in a first-place tie with Kell in Region 7AAAAA (B). Sprayberry needs a win just to stay in playoff contention.
Coming off a bye week after beating Osborne 49-20 in the subregion opener two weeks ago, the Greyhounds want to stay balanced on offense. Pope rushed for 246 yards and threw for 248 against the Cardinals. Also, winning the turnover battle is critical.
“We have to keep doing these things and take care of the football,” Pope coach Matt Kemper said. “We have to keep playing at the highest level to have a shot.”
Quarterback Taylor Wolf will need another solid game for Pope after rushing for 142 yards, a touchdown, and throwing for 248 yards. Same with tailback Mason Shiflett, who scored four touchdowns against the Cardinals — three rushing and one receiving.
Sprayberry, however, is still trying to find its identity on both sides of the ball, following a 42-17 loss to Riverwood last week to begin subregion play.
The Yellow Jackets must limit turnovers after giving up the ball four times against the Raiders. They also have to clean up other miscues, such as dropped balls, missed tackles and untimely penalties.
— By Adam Carrington
Game: Allatoona (5-1, 5-1) at Villa Rica (4-2, 4-2), 7:30 p.m.
Last year: Allatoona 38, Villa Rica 7
All-time series: Allatoona leads 1-0
Prediction: Allatoona 35, Villa Rica 17
Allatoona’s secondary is playing well, and senior safety Scott Roembke is one of the reasons why.
Roembke, a first-year starter, is currently tied for the Cobb County lead with four interceptions.
Roembke is part of a defense that has eight other first-year starters and already has three shutouts to their credit.
What has impressed Varner most about Roembke is not only his on-the-field intelligence — knowing where to be at all times — it’s his patience in earning a starting position.
“In today’s world, when parents and kids don’t want to wait for anything, his waiting three years to earn his spot says a lot about him,” Varner said. “It wasn’t his position to have, but he took it and earned it.”
Roembke, who had two of his interceptions against Lithia Springs, has also recorded 40 tackles.
His quality play, in addition to the rest of the Allatoona defense, will be called upon heavily over the next month as the Buccaneers begin their drive to the postseason.
Allatoona begins that drive Friday when it travels to Villa Rica.
Offensively, Varner said the Wildcats line up in shotgun formation with experienced receivers and often keeps opponents guessing.
“They are balanced and run the shotgun like most teams but the problem is, they run well out of it,” Varner said. “They have good receivers and can spread the ball out. We won’t know what they will do.”
— By Adam Carrington
Game: Riverwood (4-3, 1-1) at Osborne (2-5, 0-2), 7:30 p.m.
Last year: Riverwood 49, Osborne 7
All-time series: Riverwood leads 2-1
Prediction: Riverwood 28, Osborne 24
The stakes are high this week for Osborne.
The Cardinals are 0-2 halfway through their subregion 7AAAAA schedule, yet still have a chance to make the playoffs. However, in order to do so, they must win their final two subregion games, beginning with Friday’s contest against Riverwood at Cardinal Field, and get some help along the way.
“This is definitely a huge game,” Osborne coach Xarvia Smith said. “We have to win, but to make that happen, we have to come out and play hard and play decisively. I speak to these guys everyday about focus and believing that they can win. And lately, we’ve been putting up a great effort, but we’re not finishing.”
Osborne has played well in its last two games against Pope and Kell, but have nothing to show for it. The Cardinals trailed the then-No. 3 Longhorns 7-6 at halftime before succumbing in the second half and eventually falling 35-15.
“The guys played with focus and they had that belief against Kell,” Smith said. “They executed well right up until the fourth quarter and the game got away from us. We’re going to need that same kind of attitude and mindset against Riverwood, and we’ll need it for all four quarters.”
Riverwood’s known some success over the past few years. The Raiders went 5-5 in 2011 and 6-4 last season. They snapped a three-game losing streak with a 42-17 win against Sprayberry last week.
“They’re a physical, Georgia Tech triple-option type of offense,” Smith said. “They’re physical on defense too and they run a 3-5 scheme with some man coverage. We’ll have to be ready.”
Smith said his team has reached two of its four preseason goals, including winning its first game and winning the homecoming game over Cambridge. The other two goals included making the playoffs and winning four games this season.
The latter is certainly attainable.
“It’s hard to judge our team,” Smith said. “We’re young in spots and have a tendency to play around, but our goals are still in reach.”
— By Carlton D. White