North Cobb goes on road to face traditional power
August 22, 2014 09:30 AM | 3617 views | 0 0 comments | 7 7 recommendations | email to a friend | print
North Cobb coach Shane Queen will take his team to Northside-Warner Robins to open the season tonight. Staff/Jeff Stanton
North Cobb coach Shane Queen will take his team to Northside-Warner Robins to open the season tonight. Staff/Jeff Stanton

Game: North Cobb at Northside-Warner Robins, 7:30 p.m.

Last year: First meeting

All-time series: First meeting

Prediction: North Cobb 35, Northside-Warner Robins 27

Northside-Warner Robins opened its doors in 1963. North Cobb opened its doors five years prior.

While the two schools have history on their side, the Eagles have tradition, as evidenced by their 13 region championships, two state titles, 16 straight double-digit win seasons and 22 straight winning seasons. The last two years have been the best for the Warriors in the program’s history.

“I think they’ve lost seven regular-season games in 10 years, so that speaks of the tradition they have and the great program they have,” North Cobb coach Shane Queen said about Northside. “Obviously, we respect them very much. Our kids know a lot about them, but at the same time, our program has been on the rise the last two years, and we’re trying to go out and play some oppoenents that hopefully will prepare us to get ready for the region schedule that’s also so brutal.

“We’re execited to get the opportunity. They’re a very big, physical football team. They have one of the top running backs in the state in Willie Jordan. So, we’ll have our hands full playing in a hostile environement. It’s a great challenge for us.”

Queen is looking for his team to take care of the basics.

“We can’t turn the ball over,” he said. “We have to sustain early and make it a four-quarter game. We can’t go down there and be deer in the headlights and let them jump on us. Any time you play in a big-time atmosphere like that, you have to tackle well. That’s something we’re working on this week. Obviously, going up against a big back and a big offensive line like that, we have to rally to the football.

“So controlling the football, not turning it over and rallying to the ball are things we need to do. It’s going to take all 11 of us to tackle this back. He’s very gifted.”

That back is 6-1, 235-pound Willie Jordan, who ran for 1,067 yards and 19 touchdowns as a backup last year. He will be key as Northside breaks in a new quarterback, either Jurmon Weaver or Tanner Smith.

North Cobb will be doing the opposite. Quarterback Tyler Queen is back for his third year under center, but the Warriors will have to break in a new running back as freshman Chandler Webber is expected to take over for the graduated J’Vonte Herrod.

— By Carlton D. White

Game: Etowah at Marietta, 7:30 p.m.

Last year: Marietta 33, Etowah 14

All-time series: Marietta leads 11-3

Prediction: Marietta 48, Etowah 28

Marietta’s offense could be in for a big night against Etowah.

Since Scott Burton took over as coach of the Blue Devils, the team’s offense in the season opener has grown by leaps and bounds. Marietta scored 17 to start the 2010 season against South Cobb and poured 26 on the Eagles in 2011.

In 2012, the Blue Devils scored 29 against Newnan, but exploded for 52 last season.

So, how much is Burton hoping to see tonight?

“I hope we score 60 or more all year,” he said. “But, seriously, every team is new each year. You return some starters and that experience is important, but the team dynamic is redefined every year with new players, so you never know what you’re going to get. Consistency is what you strive for, but that’s hard to accomplish when you’re dealing with 16-, 17-, 18-year-old kids.”

Marietta’s year-by-year season-opening output is a reflection on how well the Blue Devils’ have bought into Burton’s system and how much they understand it.

“That’s a reflection on the defense as well as the offense,” he said. “There’s a set of core values we adhere to and we try to stay true to that year to year, and the kids have embraced that. Going into my fifth year, you hope that process is engrained and it’s all they know.”

Marietta would like to start the season out on a good note and win its season opener. The Blue Devils will likely lean on the play of quarterback Brenton Martin and 1,400-yard rusher KirVonte’ Benson.

Playing at home, means there’s added pressure to succeed.

“It’s the first game of the season, so there are good and bad emotions that come with that,” Burton said. “You want the guys to be excited, but those emotions have to be controlled. You want the kids to play on the edge, but be reasonable with their emotions. It’s a delicate balancing act.”

— By Carlton D. White

Game: Osborne at Dutchtown, 7:30 p.m.

Last year: First meeting

All-time series: First meeting

Prediction: Dutchtown 21, Osborne 7

The Byron McCall era is about to begin at Osborne, but he may not be on the sidelines when the Cardinals open their 2014 season at Dutchtown.

McCall has been in Memphis, Tenn., this week due to a family emergency and his return for tonight’s game is uncertain, defensive line coach Michael Hewitt said.

Osborne has undergone several changes over the last year, with Xarvia Smith stepping down after a three-year tenure of two-win seasons. The school also got bumped from Class AAAAA to AAAAAA this season because the student enrollment exceeded the 1,800-student cutoff.

Instead of competing in a Region 4AAAAAA with powerhouses like McEachern, North Cobb and Hillgrove that have much larger rosters, the Cardinals chose to play a non-region schedule.

Osborne’s overall numbers dipped below 30 at the end of last year’s regular season, and just 26 players participated in spring practice. The numbers grew to 33 over the summer, and according to Hewitt, the Cardinals now have 65 players participating.

But even with 65 players, more than half are still getting acclimated to Osborne’s system.

Osborne began installing the wishbone offense during the offseason shortly after McCall was hired in January. Although it scored just one touchdown during its scrimmage against South Cobb, Hewitt said the players appeared to be comfortable.

“I thought we did well on offense and we moved the ball well each time we had it,” he said. “We were happy that we never had to punt it. We were able to put up some rushing yards.”

But Osborne’s 3-5 defense struggled to stop South Cobb with Hewitt describing it as a learning experience. But against Dutchtown, he claims the teams will be evenly match with both running similar offenses and defenses.

“The guys are going to be more comfortable going into Dutchtown,” Hewitt said. “Hopefully, we can get a win and build our confidence going into the middle of the season.”

— By Adam Carrington


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