That's why the Purple Hurricanes (4-4, 2-2 in Region 7B-AAA) are looking at their matchup at Weinman Stadium with the Dragons (1-7, 1-3) as an opportunity to get better as well as a way to help realize a goal.
The 18-10 Cane loss to Cedartown last week did nothing to change that as Cartersville presently is tied for third place with Gilmer County, who they defeated earlier, and a win sets them up for a play-in game the following week against 7A-AAA's No. 2 seed. At present that is Ridgeland. A loss might not necessarily end their season but likely would.
"We're still working hard. We still have the same goal as in August when we started practice," head coach Frank Barden said. "That's what you go out and work for each week. This week the opponent happens to be Pickens County. Our goal is still there. Nothing has changed as far as our focus of getting better each week.
"That's why you take games one week at a time."
Barden said tonight's game brings the Canes back home and also is Senior Night, when the team's 17 seniors will be spotlighted and joined by their parents on the field prior to kickoff.
The Canes can expect to be challenged by a Dragon offense that has put up an average 25 points per contest through eight games this season. Defensively Pickens is allowing 33 points. That compares with the 21 points the Canes are putting up per Friday night while allowing a paltry 11 points.
"I think defensively we've played well, and obviously, we'll have to play well [to]night," Barden said. "They [Pickens] can score points. They have a good offense and a good quarterback. Our defense has played well, and it will face a big challenge offensively."
The coach said for its part the Cartersville offense needs to step up its play and show more consistency in moving the ball and in lighting up the scoreboard.
"Obviously every week we have to score," he said. "It helps our defense knowing we're putting points on the board. When we do, they can relax and play even better.
"We need our offense to go to work and be more consistent. We're in a battle with ourselves more than anyone else, to prove we can play and get done what we need to get done."
Barden said the Canes have been working this week to improve as a team, including the facets of their game that were troublesome against Cedartown.
Cartersville fumbled five times on the night but lost two very costly ones late. The Canes also hurt their cause with penalties that helped the Bulldogs gain field position and at times raised the challenge for the Canes' offense.
"We shot ourselves in the foot with our fumbling and untimely penalties," Barden said. "That can be corrected and will have to be."
The Canes did have some success offensively against Cedartown, but their numbers weren't overwhelming by any stretch of the imagination.
Cartersville had 145 yards in total offense, 95 through rushing and 50 through the air.
Kalin Heath led the ground attack, rushing 19 times for 74 yards. Tyler Will was 7-of-13 for 50 yards, with Hayes Linn accounting for 29 of those yards on five catches.
The Cane defense helped shorten the field for its offense when Josh Davis recovered a fumble at the 30-yard line late in second quarter. Preston Slemp later put the ball between the uprights with a 27-yard field goal to put Cartersville on the scoreboard.
The Canes' touchdown came after Cedartown's punter couldn't get a kick off and Cartersville ended up with the ball at the 12. Two plays later Will scored on a 9-yard run.
Barden said Pickens County is pretty balanced offensively. "They play hard and they're well coached. They will be a challenge for our football team."
Kickoff is at 7:30 p.m.