However, Rockmart found themselves in the second round of the AAA state playoffs and Cartersville coach Frank Barden knows better than to overlook his opponent when the Purple Hurricanes go on the road Friday night.
“They are a typical Rockmart team,” Barden said. “They are very athletic. That’s the main thing. They are athletic and fast. They always are, so you just have to make sure you do what you can control and not worry about the environment or being on the road.”
Cartersville is coming off an impressive victory at home against Cass a week ago and have yet to be tested in the fourth quarter in any of its two games so far.
“They are probably a little more of a run team, a split back veer team out of the [I-formation],” Barden said of Rockmart. “I think they’re very athletic and fast and we will have to play very good on defense to stop the option. I think the two backs are good and the quarterback is a very good athlete.”
The Canes have now won 12 straight regular season games. After a rivalry game against Cass and a few games before region play starts, a legitimate concern is that Cartersville is due for a letdown.
However, Barden does not believe it is in the personality of this year’s squad to allow that to happen.
“That’s the good thing about our team over the past few years,” Barden said. “We enjoyed the win on Saturday, but the guys have done a good job over the years on being focused and being ready to go for the next week. It’s a step-by-step process and we know that how you play in week two and three is going to determine how you do in weeks that matter for your region.
“Our players do a good job of understanding that each week is important.”
One of the ways Cartersville stays focused is a reliance on strong leadership. Losing several leaders from 2012’s team was a concern of Barden’s during the preseason, but he has seen members of his team step up already this season.
“I think everybody is leading with their own personalities,” Barden said. “I think that Brooks [Barden] does a good job of leading on Friday nights and that Mark Quattlebaum and Alex Barnes have done a great job of leading as well. We have some guys in practice that are doing a good job also.”
Leadership is very important to a team’s success, but Barden is also making adjustments on the field to try to maximize his personnel.
“Last week, we had a different formation. We had a three-back backfield and we like to do something a little bit different formation-wise,” Barden said.
Overall, the coaching staff is pleased with how the team has played, especially defensively. The offense still has some improvement to do, but there is still another week before Cartersville opens up its region schedule.
“In all three games, we’ve played awful well on the defense,” Barden said. “Offensively, we’ve played well, but not as efficient and consistent as we want to, yet. Our offensive line won’t do anything but get better.”
Today’s game at Rockmart will give the Canes another opportunity to get better. Meanwhile, the rest of AAA certainly hopes that does not happen.