With every week comes an opportunity for Cartersville football (9-0) to garner more accolades, and Friday’s game against top 10-ranked Troup County (8-1) is no different.
The Canes will play for their sixth straight region title and 20th overall Friday, a remarkable stretch in which it hasn’t lost a region game since 2011 and would improve to 59-1 in its last 60 games.
To extend that stretch, it will need to defeat a Troup team with skill players on offense and defense. Quarterback Montez Crowe is third in the state of Georgia in passing yards at 2,914. Suffice it to say that the Tigers like to throw the ball. They have the receivers to do so, too.
Kobe Hudson, a 6-foot-2 sophomore, has offers from Division-I schools across the southeast off the strength of a 644-yard season so far. As skilled as he is, he’s not even the leading receiver on the team. That honor belongs to Jamari Thrash.
Thrash has over 929 yards receiving on the year, which ranks 13th overall in the state. At 6-feet, 170 pounds, he is just a junior and has also received a boatload of offers from schools all over.
“They’re very athletic,” King said. “We got to keep it in front of us.”
Cartersville, of course, can match on offense whatever Troup has. Trevor Lawrence can now stop answering questions about passing Deshaun Watson, having eclipsed his career passing mark two weeks ago. Although, he still needs one more touchdown to break Watson’s career record in that category.
It’s a matter of when, not if he’ll break the touchdown record, and who will be the receiver to catch the history-maker.
Cartersville is also deeper at receiver than Troup, and should have ample opportunity to do what it has done all year. The Troup defense is headlined by King Mwikuta and Joko Willis, who play defensive end and inside linebacker, respectively. Mwikuta is a monster recruit as just a sophomore, standing at 6-foot-4 and 232 pounds. He has interest from a good bit of Division-1 powers. Willis’ suitors don’t have the same pedigree, but there are Division-I schools, including Georgia Southern and Syracuse, competing for the 6-foot-3, 200 pound 3-star.
The Tigers are led by head coach Tanner Glisson, who has quickly turned things around after a rocky first season. He took his team to the playoffs last year, and the Tigers currently sit in third place in the region with one region loss.
That loss came in a three point defeat to Cedartown, a team that Cartersville beat handily. There is a scenario where, if the Canes lose Friday, a tiebreaker could take effect, with three teams possibly tied with one loss in the region standings. That’s if Cedartown beats Chapel Hill tonight. If Chapel Hill wins and Troup pulls off the big upset over Cartersville, Troup will be the region champ.
But King isn’t focused on that, and he likely won’t have to. Cartersville has been tested in one game this year, and that came back in August against a top-5 team in the highest classification in Florida, Bartram Trail.
Even so, this game carries an extra bit of weight given the circumstances surrounding it and what happened when the Canes issued a thorough 68-0 beatdown in 2016. That game also served as the region championship.
King’s grandfather had passed away that week, and he and his team channeled that emotion into their performance. That was a year ago this week, and it’s gotten King reflecting, especially since the same opponent as last year awaits.
“Friday of our open week [the week before Troup last year], I went and talked to him,” King said. “The first question he asked me was ‘why are you here?’”
King had visited on Cartersville’s open week which came the week before the Troup game last year as it does this year. ‘Y’all can get them, can’t you?’ his grandfather asked. ‘Yes sir, I hope so,” King replied.
They’ll have an opportunity to replicate that Friday night.
“[The team has] a great opportunity in front of them,” King said. “It’s a special week for me. It’s emotional for me revisiting [last year].”