Cedartown (2-2 Overall, 1-0 Region 6-AAA) will host the Wildcats (3-1, 0-1) at 7:30 p.m. Friday in a Region 6-AAA game for Homecoming and a win by the Bulldogs would push them one step closer to a playoff berth.
This is a big ballgame, Cedartown Head Coach Mark Loudermilk said. A win would move us to 2-0 with Carrollton coming up.
The Bulldogs got their first Region 6-AAA win since Oct. 28, 2005 last Friday when they smashed Central-Carroll 25-7.
Its very nice to start region 1-0, Loudermilk said. The kids did well. I thought our defense did real well. We did give up a score and a lot of yards in the fourth quarter, but overall the defense did their job.
Loudermilk said now his team will look to make it two straight home wins for the first time since early in the 2003 season when they defeated Haralson County and Cass in consecutive home games in September.
Its time for us to take that second step, Loudermilk said. I told the team that I want to play another game after that tenth game this year and that if they want to then we need to take that second step this week.
The Bulldogs are 2-2 thanks mostly to their defense this year. However, Villa Rica will be the toughest challenge for Cedartowns defense so far this season.
Villa Rica, which has a 208-194-5 record since 1970, moved the ball very well against a tough Sandy Creek defense last Friday night. The Wildcats will enter the game averaging 23 points each contest.
They run a Wing-T offense, Loudermilk said. They run the jet sweep play a lot and a misdirection play off that. Theyll also run the belly series.
Loudermilk said the Wildcats, who spanked the Bulldogs 42-0 last season, are just as solid this year.
They are a good team, Loudermilk said. They are probably just as fast as they were last season and they may be bigger.
The game against the Wildcats will gage just how good the Bulldogs defense is this year.
They have a fullback that will absolutely light you up, Loudermilk said. And their quarterback is back from last year and hes good, too. Its going to be a test for our defense.
Last Friday night against Central-Carroll, the Bulldogs forced nearly as many turnovers (five) as points allowed (seven).
Cedartown did give up a first down in the first quarter for the first time this year when Central-Carrolls Elijah Adamiak took a toss sweep 11 yards with 1:36 remaining in the opening stanza. Despite that, the Bulldogs defense was still stellar in the opening quarter, allowing only 13 total yards. For the first half, Cedartown allowed only 60 yards, four first downs and no points.
Our defense is playing well, Loudermilk said. Against Central I thought our secondary played pretty good and our defensive front kept the pressure on the quarterback. B.J. Moore and Brandon Brown each had interceptions and Demetrius Green had a good game.
In four games this season, the Bulldogs have allowed only one touchdown in the opening half of play and seven points total. In fact, Cedartowns allowed only 328 total offensive yards in the first half of four games this season, an average of only 82 yards. Defensive coordinator Scott Jacksons unit has given up just 12 first downs (average of three per game) in the first 24 minutes of each contest.
Through four complete games, the defense is giving up 12.75 points per game and allowing 254 yards per game.
Cedartowns allowed 43 first downs in those four contests. The biggest problem for Cedartown so far this year has been allowing big plays.
In four games, the Bulldogs have given up 18 plays of 15 yards or more, which is an average of nearly five per contest. On the flip side, Cedartowns defense has 29 plays were they have gave up no yards or forced negative yardage.
We need to eliminate the big plays, Loudermilk said. Villa Rica can get a lot of big plays with the sweep and misdirection plays. We have stressed all week to our defense to keep them contained.
Quarterback Jae Crowder (6-3, 215) along with running backs Mike Springer (6-0, 210), Everette Hickman (5-10, 190) and Zay Foster are the four main Wildcat ballcarriers and each possess a lot of speed and quickness.
Those four elusive players run behind a big offensive line with guys like Jason Pollard (6-4, 230), Antonio Key (5-11, 265) and Quintale Thomas (5-11, 280) leading the way.
Defensively, the Wildcats are very multiple.
They give a lot of different looks, Loudermilk said. Weve practiced all week for multiple eight-man fronts.
Loudermilk said when Villa Rica leaves the four-man front and goes to a three-man look its no surprise what is coming next.
When they got to the 3-3 stack look, they are bringing the house, he said. Weve seen the 3-3 look against Darlington and Central-Carroll but Villa Rica will be very aggressive when they go to that front.
Loudermilk says two things will be important Friday night.
Confidence is going to play a big role in this game, Loudermilk said. We are still a young team. I think if we can come out early and have success on offense or get a big play on defense, it will help a lot.
Another thing is turnovers. Last year we fumbled the ball on the first play of the game and they ran it in for a touchdown. Later in the game they intercepted a pass against us and ran it in for a score. Weve got to hold on to the ball this year and not give Villa Rica a short field to work with.
Not only will this week be a big game for the Bulldogs in region play, it will also be big as the community will fill up the stadium for Homecoming.
Students and players love Homecoming week, Loudermilk said. As a coach you love the crowd and the atmosphere, but its also a nervous time. I hope the festivities dont distract the team and that they can come out focused.
FRIDAY'S FOOTBALL FACTS
Game: Villa Rica vs. Cedartown
Place: Cedartown Memorial Stadium (cap. unknown)
Kickoff: 7:30 p.m.
Records: Cedartown 2-2, 1-0. Villa Rica 3-1, 0-1.
Three things Cedartown must do to win:
1)Stop the run: Cedartown is allowing 151 rush yards a game. Last season, Villa Rica ran for 323 yards and four touchdowns against the Bulldogs. Needless to say, if Cedartown is to have success defensively then stopping the run is key.
2)Play a ball control offense: Cedartown doesnt have the offensive firepower to get into a shootout with the Wildcats and win. So the gameplan should be to keep Villa Ricas offense off the field. Having long, sustained drives that eat up a lot of the clock is a must Friday.
3)Tackle well in open space: Scott Jacksons defensive unit has played well this season. This week they face their stiffest challenge to date. Tackling well in open field against the Wildcats speedy players is something Cedartown must do to win.
HOMECOMING SCORES SINCE 1990:
1990: Cedartown 43, Osborne 13
1991: Cedartown 28, Southeast Whitfield 21
1992: Cedartown 40, Ridgeland 27
1993: Cedartown 24, Rome 13
1994: Cedartown 35, Lakeview Fort-Ogelthorpe 0
1995: Cedartown 44, Ringgold 7
1996: Cedartown 34, Dade County 0
1997: Cedartown 26, Cartersville 14
1998: Cedartown 48, Chattooga 7
1999: Cedartown 14, Haralson County 7
2000: Cedartown 28, Villa Rica 0
2001: Cedartown 17, Hiram 7
2002: Cedartown 35, Central-Carroll 13
2003: Cedartown 43, Cass 21
2004: Carrollton 42, Cedartown 0
2005: Central-Carroll 35, Cedartown 6
2006: Carrollton 49, Cedartown 0