Their three punts equalled the total number of passes quarterback Brooks Barden completed the entire first half. Three times the Canes’ offense went three-and-out, failing each time to take advantage of excellent field position. Several quarterback sacks and missed communication on pass routes also contributed to the Canes’ first-half misery. Cartersville’s lone first quarter highlight was a 52-yard touchdown pass from Barden to a wide open Josh Cooper. Fortunately, the Canes’ defense limited the Tigers to a second quarter touchdown.
No fire and brimstone speeches were needed on the part of coach Frank Barden at halftime to remind his players what was at stake heading into the Canes’ final regular season game.
Having already clinched the No. 1-seed in Region 5-AAA, a victory over Ringgold (6-4, 4-3) would give Cartersville its first undefeated regular season since 1999. That was the year the Canes went 15-0 and won the state championship. The Canes also undefeated during the regular season the year before, but were eliminated in the second round of the state playoffs.
“I just reminded them that we were here for a reason,” coach Barden said. “We just didn’t come out and play with any intensity. I just challenged them to step it up.”
By the time the fourth quarter ended, Cartersville clearly resembled a team that was 10-0 overall, 7-0 in the region, and champions of Region 5-AAA.
“This year’s team has a combination of the same elements that made up our 1998 and 1999 teams,” coach Barden said. “Our 1998 team [that went 11-1] wanted to prove to everybody how good it was after coming off a 2-8 season. Our 1999 team had a very special chemistry to it.”
Following their 42-7 win, Don Patterson Field became home to a Purple Hurricanes celebration, while a vanquished Ringgold football team retreated behind closed doors inside its field house.
To read the rest of this story, please purchase a copy of The Daily Tribune News at your nearby news rack or subscribe to the E-edition.