Regardless of the outcome of today’s game — which begins at 5:55 p.m. with the Purple Hurricanes looking to exact revenge for an 7-4 loss to the Buccaneers on April 9 — the days of the two teams vying for titles in Region 7-AAA could be something seen for years to come — or, at the very least, one more year, should the Georgia High School Association separate the two burgeoning rivals at next winter’s reclassification meetings.
In taking down Cartersville — recent recipient of the Georgia Dugout Club’s Program of the Decade designation — Allatoona gained some attention, even if two losses to Ringgold, who the Canes have beaten twice this season, have shown that the third-year team has ground to gain if it plans to regularly compete for region championships.
Nevertheless, the Bucs have made some noise in their first year sharing region space with Cartersville.
“I figured they would [be region contenders and] that they would be a tough opponent as well having two or three good arms like they do,” said Canes coach Stuart Chester, who is friends with Allatoona coach Keith Hansen. “They’re a well-coached team [and] with the pitching staff they have, they can beat anybody at any time.”
The longtime Cartersville coach believes the Bucs can sustain the success they have enjoyed this year even if they eventually do it another classification. Allatoona was in Class AAAA for two years before dropping down a classification.
“They’re in a good location, they’re going to draw off of two or three counties geographically where they are,” Chester continued of the Acworth-based, Cobb County school. The city of Acworth is in four counties, which includes Bartow, Cherokee and Paulding.
“With the pitching staff they have now, they could compete in any classification,” he said.
Chester, who has been a part of great rivalries with teams like Carrollton, LaGrange and Columbus, envisions the Cartersville-Allatoona rivalry developing into a good one, too.
“After [what happened] a couple of weeks ago, it has the makings of a very good rivalry,” he said.
That statement applies to other sports as well.
In their getting-to-know-you school year, Cartersville and Allatoona battled for region crowns in football and volleyball, both won by Allatoona, and the Lady Canes lost to the Lady Bucs twice during the girls basketball season before upending them in the region tournament as Cartersville finished second behind Dalton.