Sunday Standouts: Moore dominates through air, on ground in win

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At this time next weekend, it's entirely possible that Bartow County teams will be a combined 7-1 on the season.

It wouldn't be a perfect start, per se, but it would be the closest thing possible.

In that scenario, each of the four county teams will have played exactly two games with the only loss blemishing Adairsville's record. However since the defeat came at the hands of Cass, it's the best mark the collective local teams could have three weeks into the year.

At this point, though, they will have to settle for an overall record of 4-1.

Every team started off the campaign with a victory. Adairsville edged out Chattooga; Cartersville blew out Allatoona; the Colonels knocked off the Tigers; and Woodland outlasted Southeast Whitfield.

The Canes and Wildcats took this week off, but they will return to action next Friday along with the Colonels. All three teams have winnable games, while the Tigers rest and heal before starting Region 6-AAA play.

Cartersville and Woodland will host Luella and East Hall, respectively. Cass, meanwhile, will look to carry its winning form on the road when the Colonels head to Forsyth Central.

Cass earned its first win since Sept. 16, 2016, with the 19-10 triumph over one of its county rivals. While several players stepped up for the Colonels to snap a 16-game losing streak, landing spots on this week's list of standouts, one stood out above the rest to take home top honors.


PLAYER OF THE WEEK

Rett Moore — Cass

It had to be Rett Moore.

The only thing more fitting than Cass putting a winless season behind it in a season-opening, home win over a county rival is that Moore led the team to victory.

He spent a majority of the time at quarterback last year. The senior showed plenty of toughness during his junior campaign, but it always wound up being for naught.

That wasn't the case Friday night, as he carried the Colonels to their first win in nearly two years.

In the first half, he looked like the Moore of 2017. Hard runs, including two short touchdowns, but not much luck in the passing game. In the second half, he looked like a more confident passer with the same toughness.

He finished up the night 10-for-13 for 139 yards through the air. That included completing all eight of his second-half attempts. On the ground, he piled up 72 rushing yards and all three of his scores came with his feet.

Moore will likely need to replicate his performance on a weekly basis to keep Cass in games, especially once Region 7-AAAA play begins.


SUNDAY STANDOUTS

Nic Jackson — Adairsville

Cass dominated time of possession, particularly in the second half, so it's not surprising that the Adairsville defense put up some big tackle numbers.

It's even less surprising that Nic Jackson led the way. The senior linebacker used his impeccable instincts and sure-tackling ability to pace the defense for what seems like the umpteenth time in his career.

Jackson racked up 15 total tackles — 10 of which came after halftime. He did everything in his power to get the Tigers off the field. Jackson, who now has 26 tackles on the young season, stuffed several Cass running plays, but his effort wasn't quite enough to see Adairsville improve to 2-0.

With a week off before region action kicks off, Jackson will look to rest up after what has been a series of physical games to open the season. Having him at full strength will be paramount for the Tigers this year.


Danarous Johnson — Adairsville

Before the season started, Adairsville head coach Eric Bishop spoke about the emergence of a handful of players durning the latter stages of fall camp. One of those players was Danarous Johnson.

Bishop wanted to find a way to get the athletic senior on the field in a meaningful role. He found a way Friday night.

Johnson made a big impact on defense, particularly in the first half. Often matched up with Cass' go-to receiver, he held Jacquez Fountain to one catch for 10 yards, while also breaking up a pass.

In the second half, Fountain blew up. Johnson, though, made several important tackles (nine stops in total) and also forced a fumble to thwart a big drive by Cass in the third quarter.

While he may yet emerge as a weapon on offense, Johnson has certainly shown he can be a force on the defensive side of the ball. He'll only improve as he gets used to football after not having previously played at the high school level.


Jacquez Fountain — Cass

As mentioned above, Fountain had a quiet — almost silent — first half. After halftime, he became the key to everything Cass did offensively.

Moore, obviously, led the offense, but it was Fountain's ability in the passing attack that opened up everything else for the Colonels.

Over the final two quarters, the senior transfer from Mississippi hauled in six passes for 111 yards. All told, he had 7 catches for 121 yards in his regular season debut with Cass.

His size will make him a matchup nightmare for any cornerback, but it appears the best way to get him the football is in the quick passing game. He showed great ability after the catch in those situations, too.

In no uncertain terms, Fountain's presence completely changes the Colonels offense. He keeps the defense honest, so much so that he helps on the ground almost as much as through the air.


JaCorey Jackson — Cass

Only one defensive player from Cass made the standouts this week. It wasn't due to a poor effort. On the contrary, few individuals put up gaudy stats, because the team performed so well as a whole.

No players put up double-digit tackles, because every person on the defense did his job and rarely needed cover. For example, every starting linebacker had either six or seven tackles — it's the sign of a balanced, accountable unit.

That said, JaCorey Jackson makes the list of honorees for being in on two key plays. He had three tackles and three pass breakups with two of the breakups leading to interceptions by his teammates.

In the first half, when Adairsville looked to answer Cass' first touchdown, Jackson broke up a pass that Nathan Gant picked off. In the second half, with the Colonels leading 12-10, Jackson deflected a pass and Malik Grimes perfectly executed the tip drill. Those were the only turnovers of the day for the Tigers.


Zay Jackson — Cass

The Colonels have a pair of solid senior backs who can break off big plays, and Thomas Gilliam and Malik Grimes each showcased their talents in Friday's win.

Gilliam had a 30-yard run late in the fourth quarter to allow Cass to essentially run out the clock. Grimes had some nice runs and picked off the aforementioned pass.

However, sophomore Zay Jackson outshined both with his home-run threat.

Jackson piled up 94 yards on just 11 rushing attempts — a stellar average of 8.55 yards per attempt. He had four carries of at least 13 yards, including two of at least 22.

While he also had some short runs, Jackson needed to just beat the first wave of defenders to break off a long run. If the first attempted tackle didn't bring him down, it likely took until the third or fourth try to wrestle him to the ground.

With three other backs, not including Moore, to split carries with, Jackson should stay fresh all season long, and that could be a problem for the Colonels' upcoming opponents.