The Purple Hurricanes (the No. 3 seed in Region 7B-AAA) have played the Saints (6-4, 5-1 and No. 2 seed in Region 5B-AAA) just once, but that was for the state championship in 1991.
Cartersville won 28-19 and will be trying to extend that record of perfection, something the Purple Hurricanes flirted with the first four games of this season. Game time is at 7:30 p.m.
The Canes finished the regular season with a 9-1 record, with their single loss, 18-13, coming in Region 7B-AAA to Allatoona in the season's fifth game.
That record is perhaps sweeter for Cartersville since it comes after last year's 5-5 record.
This season has seen a remarkable improvement over a year ago by the Canes, who plowed through their competition behind strong line play and a strong running and effective passing game. The Canes also owe their success to a strong kicking game that regularly forced their opponents to start their drives close to their own goal lines.
Head coach Frank Barden gives a lot of the credit for this year's success to the character and work ethic of his team and its seniors.
"We have a lot of good kids," he said. "We had hoped their hard work and the leadership of the seniors would produce a good season and it did."
He said the senior leadership has been important, too.
"They have put a lot of heart into this," the Cane coach said. "They are good kids to be around."
He added another key has been players stepping up to fill the role of injured starters all season.
The Cane coach said they can expect a tough battle tonight from the Ellenwood team.
Cedar Grove is similar to Cartersville in that it likes to visit the goal line frequently, averaging 28 points per game -- the second-highest in its region behind Woodward Academy. That's one more point than the Canes, who usually score 27 points, the highest in its region -- one point more than Allatoona averages.
The Saints are slightly more generous when it come to allowing points, surrendering 17 points per contest. Cartersville allows an average of 13 points.
They do lack state playoff experience, unlike Cartersville, which last played there in 2008, when the Canes defeated St. Pius X 42-28 in the first round of the state playoffs. They fell 42-28 the following week to Gainesville.
While Cedar Grove hasn't been in the playoffs in years, they came close last year and have played some tough teams this season.
Just last Friday, they fell to tough Grady 17-6 on the road. The previous week they upset Woodward Academy, 36-23.
"(The Saints) are a good team and they have plenty of talent," he said, adding they have a receiver/defensive back who was made an offer by the SEC's Tennessee Volunteers. "They're well coached at what they do -- that's what you always get when you get to the playoffs."
The coach said the Cane defense can expect pressure.
"They're a spread team -- they're going to spread their players and put a lot of pressure on us," he said. "That's the goal of the spread teams -- to get as many plays and points as they can and they fall right into that philosophy."
Barden said the Canes are healthy considering the time of year.
A key return is that of running back Jamie Jackson, who missed last week's LaFayette game.
He added that the Canes are road-tested and he is more concerned about the Saints players than he is about this being a road game.
"We've played games on the road and our game against LaFayette was on the road," he said. "What matters more is your preparation Monday through Thursday."
Cartersville goes into the game fresh off its 35-21 whipping of LaFayette, a game that saw the Canes literally seize victory midway through the fourth quarter with a determined nine-play touchdown drive that killed both the clock and simultaneously the comeback hopes of the Ramblers, who had just closed the contest to 28-21.
An enthused Barden told his team afterward: "The Cartersville Purple Hurricanes are back. You took control of the ball game and finished like you're supposed to finish."