For some, early schedules will offer few favors
by John Bednarowski
March 16, 2014 04:00 AM | 4265 views | 0 0 comments | 5 5 recommendations | email to a friend | print
As North Cobb looks to retain its region title, coach Shane Queen, center, will not only have to contend with his opponents in a new-look Region 4AAAAAA, but also those on a non-region schedule he says ‘is the hardest’ of his coaching career.
<Br>Staff photo by Erin Gray
As North Cobb looks to retain its region title, coach Shane Queen, center, will not only have to contend with his opponents in a new-look Region 4AAAAAA, but also those on a non-region schedule he says ‘is the hardest’ of his coaching career.
Staff photo by Erin Gray
Cobb County high school football fans won’t have to wait long to see playoff-quality games this fall.

For North Cobb, McEachern and Hillgrove, nearly every week will be that way.

“This is the hardest schedule (my team has faced) in my 20 years of coaching,” North Cobb coach Shane Queen said.

Queen said it was a challenge for him to put the Warriors’ schedule together, and based on his opponents’ winning percentages, it’s the most difficult slate in the county, and it could be the most difficult in the state.

In addition to its Region 4AAAAAA opponents, North Cobb will open the season with games at Northside-Warner Robins (10-2 in 2013) and Class AAAAAA runner-up North Gwinnett (13-2). The Warriors will then host Cartersville (11-1) and Monroe Area (11-1).

Those four teams combined to average more than 41 points a game in 2013.

North Cobb’s 10 opponents for the upcoming season went a combined 93-29 (.762) last fall. Seven of the teams won 10 or more games, and eight made the postseason.

Only one team on the schedule — region rival Kennesaw Mountain — had a losing record.

“I looked for a month for games,” Queen said. “It’s a testament to our kids for what they’ve done over the last two years.”

That testament is being successful. The Warriors are coming off the best two-year stretch in their history — 20-6 — and once a team becomes successful, it can struggle filling out the non-region portion of its schedule with a balanced assortment of opponents.

Making matters worse, seven of the eight teams in Region 4AAAAAA’s new alignment were forced to find up to four non-region games after new member Osborne chose to play a non-region football schedule.

“You have to play somebody,” McEachern coach Kyle Hockman said. “We wanted to play a tough out-of-region schedule.”

But maybe not quite this tough. The Indians’ opponents went a combined 85-33 (.720) from 2013.

McEachern’s non-region slate includes Mill Creek in the Corky Kell Classic, then a road game against Class AAA state champion Buford (15-0). The home opener is against Peachtree Ridge (8-4), followed by a road game against Region 2AAAAAA champion Lovejoy (10-2).

Hockman said he had been trying to work out a home-and-home series with Buford coach Jess Simpson for a few years, but they had not been able to find a common date.

The other three games needed a little more work.

“We reach out to a lot of (teams) in Cherokee, north Fulton and Coweta,” he said. “We tried to get some of them to play, but for whatever reason, they wouldn’t pull the trigger.”

Hillgrove also has a front-loaded schedule.

The Hawks open at home with Region 5AAAAAA champion Lassiter (7-4) and then they travel to Shiloh (5-5) before closing non-region play with a home game against North Gwinnett and a trip to Lovejoy.

The combined record of Hillgrove’s opponents was 81-38 (.681) in 2013.

The question these programs will have to answer is, with such a tough way to start the year, will they have anything left for region play?

“You just hope you are healthy by the time we get to the region schedule,” Queen said.

Hillgrove coach Philip Ironside said you have to be smart, but playing a difficult non-region slate should not be a precursor to being beat up heading into region play.

“That’s not usually what happens to us,” he said. “Usually, we lose guys in the blowout game where everyone should get to play. It doesn’t usually happen in the intense or heated rivalry games.”

Either way, Hockman has a plan with the region schedule in mind.

“The first four games don’t mean anything,” he said. “You always like to win them and, if we win all four, we will all likely be in the top five of the state, but it’s the last six that mean something.

“We’re going to play a lot of players early (in the non-region games), regardless of the score, because, once you get into region play, you are always concerned about depth.”

* * *

Other interesting items on the schedules:

* When Kell faces Carrollton at the Georgia Dome to kick off the Corky Kell Classic, there will be a familiar face on the opposing sideline.

Longtime Walton coach Ed Dudley recently took the Carrollton reins after five years ware Ware County.

It will be the first time Kell’s Derek Cook has coached against Dudley since 2008, when Dudley was still at Walton.

“I’ve known (Dudley) for 15 years,” Cook said. “It’s going to be a tough one. Carrollton is a tradition-rich program that played for the (Class AAAA) state championship last year, and I don’t think they left the cupboard bare for him.”

* An early-season staple — the annual “Backyard Brawl” between Lassiter and Sprayberry — will take at least a two-year hiatus.

The two schools, their campuses separated by about 3 miles, have played 30 of the last 32 years, but with Lassiter’s Region 5AAAAAA adding Pope, and Sprayberry’s Region 7AAAAA having to rework their subregions with the addition of Dalton and Cass, Trojans coach Jep Irwin said getting the traditional contest on the schedule was implausible this time around.

Three other rivalries also suffered a similar fate.

With South Cobb, Pebblebrook and Campbell becoming members of a new Region 3AAAAAA, their annual contests with McEachern were put on hold.

South Cobb had played the Indians 12 straight years and 32 times since 1976. Pebblebrook had played McEachern 38 times since 1968, and Campbell had faced the Indians 24 times since its current campus opened in 1989.

* South Cobb, still looking for a coach after the resignation of Michael Youngblood, will not ease into its season.

The Eagles will open at defending Class AAAAA champion Creekside, travel to Pope and host Marietta before beginning region play. In all, South Cobb will play four of its first five games on the road.

* Harrison and Pope will play one another for the first time, and the Hoyas will face Wheeler for the first time since 2005.

* Walton will not be part of the Corky Kell Classic for the first time since 2007. Instead, the Raiders will open the season at home against South Gwinnett.

It will be the first time since 2006 Walton has opened the season at Raider Valley.

* Allatoona lost three region games in 2013 — to South Paulding, East Paulding and North Paulding — and the Buccaneers will play those three again in the first half of the ’14 season.

All three games will be back at Cobb Energy/Buccaneer Stadium.

* Osborne’s non-region schedule will feature only nine games, including three against county rivals Pebblebrook, Harrison and Kennesaw Mountain.

The Cardinals, who have six home games, will have consecutive bye weeks to end September and a third on Oct. 17.

Allatoona Buccaneers

Aug. 22 East Paulding

Aug. 29 at Villa Rica

Sept. 5 North Paulding

Sept. 12 at Lithia Springs

Sept. 19 Bye

Sept. 26 South Paulding

Oct. 3 at Alexander

Oct. 10 New Manchester

Oct. 17 at Hiram

Oct. 24 Paulding County

Oct. 31 Bye

Nov. 7 Chapel Hill

Campbell Spartans

Aug. 22 South Atlanta

Aug. 29 Stone Mountain

Sept. 5 Bye

Sept. 12 Lakeside DeKalb

Sept. 19 Bye

Sept. 26 at East Coweta

Oct. 3 at Langston Hughes

Oct. 10 Pebblebrook

Oct. 17 Newman

Oct. 24 at South Cobb

Oct. 31 at Douglas County

Nov. 7 Westlake

Harrison Hoyas

Aug. 22 Pope

Aug. 29 at Wheeler

Sept. 5 East Coweta

Sept. 12 at Osborne

Sept. 19 Bye

Sept. 26 at North Cobb

Oct. 3 North Paulding

Oct. 10 at Kennesaw Mountain

Oct. 17 Bye

Oct. 24 Hillgrove

Oct. 31 at McEachern

Nov. 7 Marietta

Hillgrove Hawks

Aug. 22 Lassiter

Aug. 29 at Shiloh

Sept. 5 North Gwinnett

Sept. 12 at Lovejoy

Sept. 19 Bye

Sept. 26 at Marietta

Oct. 3 North Cobb

Oct. 10 at North Paulding

Oct. 17 Kennesaw Mountain

Oct. 24 at Harrison

Oct. 31 Bye

Nov. 7 McEachern

Kell Longhorns

Aug. 23 vs. Carrollton

(Georgia Dome)

Aug. 29 at Lassiter

Sept. 5 Bye

Sept. 12 at Sequoyah

Sept. 19 Forsyth Central

Sept. 26 Cambridge

Oct. 3 at North Springs

Oct. 10 Bye

Oct. 17 at Riverwood

Oct. 24 at North Atlanta

Oct. 31 Sprayberry

Nov. 7 Region Play-in

Kennesaw Mountain Mustangs

Aug. 22 Bye

Aug. 29 Sprayberry

Sept. 5 at Mountain View

Sept. 12 Douglas County

Sept. 19 Bye

Sept. 26 at North Paulding

Oct. 3 at Osborne

Oct. 10 Harrison

Oct. 17 at Hillgrove

Oct. 24 McEachern

Oct. 31 at Marietta

Nov. 7 North Cobb

Lassiter Trojans

Aug. 22 at Hillgrove

Aug. 29 Kell

Sept. 5 Walton

Sept. 12 Woodstock

Sept. 19 Bye

Sept. 26 at Milton

Oct. 3 Bye

Oct. 10 Etowah

Oct. 17 at Cherokee

Oct. 24 at Pope

Oct. 31 Wheeler

Nov. 7 at Roswell

Marietta Blue Devils

Aug. 22 Etowah

Aug. 29 Walton

Sept. 5 at Newnan

Sept. 12 at South Cobb

Sept. 19 Bye

Sept. 26 Hillgrove

Oct. 3 at McEachern

Oct. 10 Bye

Oct. 17 North Cobb

Oct. 24 at North Paulding

Oct. 31 Kennesaw Mountain

Nov. 7 at Harrison

McEachern Indians

Aug. 23 vs. Mill Creek

(Georgia Dome)

Aug. 29 at Buford

Sept. 5 Bye

Sept. 12 Peachtree Ridge

Sept. 19 at Lovejoy

Sept. 26 Bye

Oct. 3 Marietta

Oct. 10 at North Cobb

Oct. 17 North Paulding

Oct. 24 at Kennesaw Mountain

Oct. 31 Harrison

Nov. 7 at Hillgrove

Mount Paran Christian Eagles

Aug. 22 at Eagle’s Landing Chr.

Aug. 29 at Whitefield Academy

Sept. 5 North Clayton

Sept. 12 Bye

Sept. 19 at King’s Ridge Christian

Sept. 26 Pinecrest Academy

Oct. 3 Bye

Oct. 10 Walker

Oct. 17 at Christian Heritage

Oct. 24 Trion

Oct. 31 at Mount Zion-Carroll

Nov. 7 Region Crossover

North Cobb Warriors

Aug. 22 at Northside-WR

Aug. 29 at North Gwinnett

Sept. 5 Cartersville

Sept. 12 Monroe Area

Sept. 19 Bye

Sept. 26 Harrison

Oct. 3 at Hillgrove

Oct. 10 McEachern

Oct. 17 at Marietta

Oct. 24 Bye

Oct. 31 North Paulding

Nov. 7 at Kennesaw Mountain

North Cobb Christian Eagles

Aug. 22 Bye

Aug. 29 Cross Keys

Sept. 5 Jeff Davis

Sept. 12 Kipp Atlanta

Sept. 19 at Banks County

Sept. 26 Bye

Oct. 3 Hephzibah

Oct. 10 Glascock

Oct. 17 New Hamstead

Oct. 24 at Crawford County

Nov. 1 at Mount Vernon

Nov. 7 at Stewart County

Osborne Cardinals

Aug. 22 at Dutchtown

Aug. 29 Lakeside-DeKalb

Sept. 5 at Pebblebrook

Sept. 12 Harrison

Sept. 19 Bye

Sept. 26 Bye

Oct. 3 Kennesaw Mountain

Oct. 10 at Johnson-Gainesville

Oct. 17 Bye

Oct. 24 Cross Keys

Oct. 31 Upson Lee

Nov. 7 Forest Park/Morrow

Pebblebrook Falcons

Aug. 22 Bye

Aug. 29 at Miller Grove

Sept. 5 at Osborne

Sept. 12 Alcovy

Sept. 19 Bye

Sept. 26 at Westlake

Oct. 3 South Cobb

Oct. 10 at Campbell

Oct. 17 East Coweta

Oct. 24 at Newnan

Oct. 31 Langston Hughes

Nov. 7 Douglas County

Pope Greyhounds

Aug. 22 at Harrison

Aug. 29 South Cobb

Sept. 5 Bye

Sept. 12 at Etowah

Sept. 19 Bye

Sept. 26 Cherokee

Oct. 3 at Walton

Oct. 10 Roswell

Oct. 17 at Wheeler

Oct. 24 Lassiter

Oct. 31 at Milton

Nov. 7 Woodstock

South Cobb Eagles

Aug. 22 at Creekside

Aug. 29 at Pope

Sept. 5 Bye

Sept. 12 Marietta

Sept. 19 Bye

Sept. 26 at Newnan

Oct. 3 at Pebblebrook

Oct. 10 Douglas County

Oct. 17 Langston Hughes

Oct. 24 Campbell

Oct. 31 at Westlake

Nov. 7 East Coweta

Sprayberry Yellow Jackets

Aug. 22 at South Paulding

Aug. 29 at Kennesaw Mountain

Sept. 5 Bye

Sept. 12 at Woodland

Sept. 19 North Springs

Sept. 26 at North Atlanta

Oct. 3 at Riverwood

Oct. 10 Cambridge

Oct. 17 Forsyth Central

Oct. 24 Bye

Oct. 31 at Kell

Nov. 7 Region Play-in

Walker Wolverines

Aug. 22 Wesleyan

Aug. 29 Bye

Sept. 5 at King’s Ridge Christian

Sept. 12 at Pinecrest Academy

Sept. 19 at Whitefield Academy

Sept. 26 St. Francis

Oct. 3 Mount Zion-Carroll

Oct. 10 at Mount Paran Christian

Oct. 17 Bye

Oct. 24 Christian Heritage

Oct. 31 at Trion

Nov. 7 Region Crossover

Walton Raiders

Aug. 22 South Gwinnett

Aug. 29 at Marietta

Sept. 5 at Lassiter

Sept. 12 Roswell

Sept. 19 Bye

Sept. 26 at Wheeler

Oct. 3 Pope

Oct. 10 at Woodstock

Oct. 17 Milton

Oct. 24 Bye

Oct. 31 at Cherokee

Nov. 7 Etowah

Wheeler Wildcats

Aug. 22 at Duluth

Aug. 29 Harrison

Sept. 5 at Woodstock

Sept. 12 at Cherokee

Sept. 19 Bye

Sept. 26 Walton

Oct. 3 at Roswell

Oct. 10 Bye

Oct. 17 Pope

Oct. 24 Etowah

Oct. 31 at Lassiter

Nov. 7 Milton

Whitefield Academy Wolfpack

Aug. 22 Bye

Aug. 29 Mount Paran Christian

Sept. 5 Providence Christian

Sept. 12 at Mount Zion-Carroll

Sept. 19 Walker

Sept. 26 Bye

Oct. 3 at Pinecrest Academy

Oct. 10 at King’s Ridge Christian

Oct. 17 Fellowship Christian

Oct. 24 St. Francis

Oct. 31 at Mount Pisgah

Nov. 7 Region Crossover

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