Adairsville, the No. 2 seed from Region 5-AAA, lost to Hart County, the No. 3 in Region 8-AAA. Gordon Central, the No. 3 seed from Region 5-AAA, lost to Morgan County, the No. 2 seed from Region 8-AAA. Ringgold, the No. 4 seed from Region 5-AAA, lost to North Oconee, the No. 1 seed from Region 8-AAA.
“Our victory against Jackson County showed just how important it is to be the No. 1 seed in your region and having home field advantage during the state playoffs,” coach Frank Barden said.
Less than 24 hours after the Canes improved to 11-0, coach Barden conceded he was more relieved than excited that his team was moving on in the playoffs.
“I was very concerned, because I knew Jackson County could move the ball on us,” said Barden after spending Saturday morning watching Friday night’s game at Weinman Stadium on film.
Move the ball they did.
The Panthers’ 21 points was the most allowed by the Canes’ defense since its 40-22 victory over North Murray back in Week 4. The Panthers’ ball-control offense amassed 399 yards of total offense and accounted for 28 out of their 30 first downs. The other two coming on back-to-back, 15-yard penalties. But a turnover on first-and-goal from Cartersville’s 1-yard line, an incomplete pass on fourth-and-goal at the Canes’ 4-yard-line and an ill-advised fake punt attempt deep in its own territory proved to be Jackson County’s undoing.
It was 14-0 Cartersville when Jackson County (6-5) attempted a fake punt attempt on fourth down and eight and its own 28-yard line. Three plays later, Brooks Barden threw a 10-yard touchdown pass to T.L. Ford.
“It’s a play I definitely would want back,” Panthers’ coach Benji Harrison said.
For Brooks Barden, his six touchdown passes against Jackson County quite possibly set a school record.
“We don’t keep statistics like that, so it is hard to say if it was a school record or not,” coach Barden said. “But until somebody says otherwise, it was”
The junior quarterback threw for 218 yards and ran for more than 100 yards.
Overall, the two opposing quarterbacks were a combined 38-of-72 and totaled 441 yards in passing.
All three Jackson County touchdowns were scored by Daivon Ledford.
When Barden wasn’t throwing touchdown passes, the Canes found other ways to score. Brandon Long had a 2-yard touchdown run and Kobie Whitfield closed out the Canes scoring onslaught with a 65-yard interception return late in the fourth quarter.
With the victory, the Canes once again have home field advantage when they host the Blessed Trinity Titans this coming Friday in the second round of the Class AAA state playoffs.
The Titans, 9-2 and the No. 2-seed from Region 6-AAA, defeated White County, the No. 3 seed from Region 7-AAA, 35-14.
GAINING RESPECT: With almost 10 players from last year’s playoff team signing to play football collegiately, the Adairsville Tigers’ 2012 edition garnered far less attention than its 10-2 predecessor.
Coach Jim Kremer said this season’s team fought for its respect throughout.
“This group was really working hard trying to gain the respect of people,” Kremer said. “They were hearing a lot of things after last year’s [final] game, all the way through the offseason, that we weren’t gonna be any good, and we proved ’em wrong and then we were able to win games and get in the playoffs as a second seed.”
“That, in itself, I think, is tremendous,” the fourth-year Adairsville coach continued. “And, of course, Marcus [Childers] being a 10th-grade quarterback, everybody was kind of speculating [how good we would be] … so I think we did a lot of good things.”
Childers, who rushed for 123 yards and a touchdown in the Tigers’ 32-11 loss to Hart County Friday, guided Bartow County’s northernmost prep team back to the playoffs.
Adairsville stood at 2-2 in late September, but the Tigers reeled off three straight wins before closing out the regular season with back-to-back victories, an upset of Gordon Central — at the time Region 5-AAA’s 2-seed — as well as a playoff-clinching triumph at Coahulla Creek.
Though it finished shy of last year’s mark with a 7-4 record, Adairsville managed something not even the 2011 Tigers could do — host a playoff game, the team’s first since 2003.
With a talented signal-caller in Childers and Kremer and his staff still at the control, Adairsville may just find itself destined for another run at the postseason in 2013.
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.