In a nine-team region, there’s little flexibility for a football coach trying to schedule a 10-game season.
For Woodland head coach Tony Plott, the size of the region left him with just two non-region games and the preseason scrimmage under his control.
After placing the requisite phone calls and making an incalculable amount of marks on his calendar in pencil, Plott settled on Southeast Whitfield and East Hall as the non-region games, and Adairsville as the preseason scrimmage for the upcoming 2018 high school football season.
“Just like everybody, we wanted to find teams that are competitive and would be a good gate,” Plott said of the non-region schedule. “They’re going to be good, quality teams to help us get ready for the region schedule.”
Southeast Whitfield came within one game of making the state playoffs last year in Class 4A, while East Hall reached the second round in Class 3A.
Adairsville, meanwhile, was a natural choice for the scrimmage. The Tigers have been the Wildcats’ preseason foe in each of the last two years, and the scrimmages have generally been competitive and drawn a strong gate.
The game in 2018 will be played at Woodland and then Adairsville in 2019.
“I think it’s good for both of us,” Plott said of scrimmaging Adairsville. “We have a pretty decent gate when we do that and they’re always competitive. Coach [Eric] Bishop does a great job with his program and you know what you’re going to get with them. They’re going to be well-coached and disciplined, and it’s going to be competitive. That’s what you want.”
While the non-region slate and scrimmage offer the most flexibility in scheduling, the season’s success or failure will ultimately come down to how Woodland does in the most competitive region in Class 5A.
Of course, Rome, Carrollton and Kell will headline Region 7-AAAAA again next year, with Rome coming off back-to-back state titles. Unlike the past two seasons, the Wildcats won’t have to face Rome the last game of the year. Instead, the Wolves and Trojans of Carrollton stand back-to-back on the schedule in the last week of September and first week of October, respectively.
A road game against Cass will begin region play on Sept. 7. Then, games Woodland hopes to win this year, against Paulding County and at Hiram, fall in the following weeks before the Rome-Carrollton two-game stretch.
After an open week on Oct. 12, Woodland will end the regular season with a critical stretch of three games against the teams expected to contend for the 3-, 4- and 5-seeds in the region — at Villa Rica, home vs. East Paulding, and at Kell.
“I think it worked out pretty well for us,” Plott said of the region schedule drawing. “It really doesn’t matter region-wise. We still have to play everybody. Our region is so tough, it really doesn’t matter.”
Aug. 10 — Adairsville (scrimmage)
Aug. 17 — @Southeast Whitfield
Aug. 31 — East Hall
Sept. 7 — @Cass
Sept. 14 — Paulding County
Sept. 21 — @Hiram
Sept. 28 — Rome
Oct. 5 — Carrollton
Oct. 19 — @Villa Rica
Oct. 26 — East Paulding
Nov. 2 — @Kell