Game: Cartersville (4-0) at Cherokee (4-0), 7:30 p.m., Friday
Last year: Cartersville 28, Cherokee 7 (Sept. 20, 2019)
All-time series: Cartersville leads 7-2-1
Prediction: Cherokee 31, Cartersville 28
Beyond the undefeated records, plenty will be on the line Friday at Tommy Baker Field.
Cartersville (4-0) — ranked No. 3 in Class AAAAA and riding a state-record 62-game regular season winning streak — will travel to take on Cherokee (4-0) to face a Warriors program which is looking for its first 5-0 start to a season since 2007. Cartersville won this matchup 28-7 last fall and the last regular season game the Hurricanes lost was a 27-26 defeat to North Cobb on September 5, 2014. Cartersville is 83-1 in regular season games since the start of the 2012 season.
“We’re gonna have our hands full obviously,” Cherokee coach Josh said. “But when I spoke to the guys this week I reminded them of the streak. When we talked about our opponent this week that’s something we talked about.”
The Hurricanes have won their games this season by an average score of 32-10. The program that produced Trevor Lawrence still likes to throw the ball, and this year it’s senior Stratton Tripp who’s taken over behind center. Tripp is averaging 179 yards per game while completing 61 percent of his passes with seven touchdowns to one interception. His primary targets have been seniors Sam Phillips (23 receptions for 245 yards) and Devonte Ross (16 receptions for 300 yards).
The Hurricanes have also run the ball with senior Quante’ Jennings averaging 85 yards per game (6.7 per carry) to go along with eight touchdowns.
Defensively, Cartersville senior safety Evan Slocum is a Wake Forest commit while junior linebacker Tate Smith leads the team in tackles, tackles for loss and sacks.
Cherokee is coming off a 14-9 road win at Creekview and for a team with an explosive offense, it was the defense which led this way. Senior defensive back Riley Lyons’ interception late in the fourth quarter helped secure the victory along with a sack by junior Tyler Goddard, who finished with a team-high 16 tackles.
Offensively, Cherokee was led last week by their junior running back Kieth Adams Jr. who finished with a team-high 177 total yards — 125 rushing and 52 receiving — and on the season is averaging 122 rushing yards per game. The Warriors passing offense is led by quarterback A.J. Swann — 789 yards and eight touchdowns — but it may be the run game which will prove to be the bellwether for Cherokee’s offensive success.
“I think without question (Adams) is one of the best running backs in the state as a junior,” Shaw said. “ You look at the number of explosive plays he’s had already, I think it’s already well over what he had last year. But the bottom line for us is we’ve got to cut down on the negative plays and penalties.”
Cartersville held on for a 21-18 victory last week against Creekside, which held the ball on the Cartersville 13-yard line in the final moments of the game. Cherokee already knocked off Rome this season, and a win this week would speak loudly to the Warriors’ potential this fall.