The Colonels are looking for improved play on the part of each player and the team as a whole. Head coach Rick Casko said Cass, which has an 0-4 record, has little experience returning — one starter back from the team from a year ago — and a serious lack of size because it has so many sophomores and juniors.
The Colonels expect the same when they line up against the War Eagles, who are sporting a 1-2 record and look like an opponent Cass should match up better against, statistically speaking.
Pardon Cass if it doesn’t pay much attention to statistics, these days, though. After all, it entered its game against Sequoyah last week with statistics similar to the Chiefs only to undergo a 44-10 smackdown.
The Chiefs used the Colonels to make a statement while earning their first victory of the year on the gridiron. The Colonels, hopefully, can do likewise when they play the team from South Forsyth, which comes in with one win on the year, a 24-6 defeat of Central Forsyth.
The two teams have put up similar offensive numbers. Cass is scoring an average 15 points per game while giving up 39. South Forsyth is averaging 18 points and giving up 36 points.
The teams have played one common opponent.
South Forsyth fell to Woodland 55-23 on Sept. 2, while Cass bowed to the Wildcats 39-26 on Aug. 26. The Wildcats rolled up an impressive 643 totals yards — 379 rushing and 264 passing — against the War Eagles.
The Colonels enter the game fresh off a loss to Sequoyah.
Coach Casko said the Colonels were hampered in that game by a lack of size and game experience.
Cass returns just one starter — Ronnie LaFollote. Of the team’s 22 starters, 14 have little previous game experience and several of its starters also have been dinged up.
The Colonels are quarterbacked by Brandon Etheridge, a player who is rapidly becoming a talented passer.
Loren Drayton, who caught three passes for 41 yards Friday night, Kelon Well and Jordon Cothron are among his favorite targets. Wells was the leading gainer on the ground, accounting for 29 yards on 11 carries.
Casko said the key to success for the Colonels lies in getting more experience as the year goes along.
He said a lot of the success of their opponents has come when their juniors and seniors made plays against the younger Colonels. He said Cass should be more successful as it makes fewer mistakes and does not face so many players with size and experience advantages.
Cass’s losses also have come to Rome, 38-14; and Johns Creek, 35-13.
Last year, the Colonels lost to South Forsyth 31-7.
“We’re just trying to get better every week,” Casko said.
The coach said Cass is having to gain most of its experience in actual game conditions because it hasn’t been able to duplicate on the practice field what it sees Friday nights.
“It was tough for us to simulate what it was like with Sequoyah,” Casko said. “What we saw on the field was a step quicker. That helped them get on us early, and we made some mistakes. We were shell-shocked.”
He said those mistakes included everything from reacting slowly to plays to poor timing.
“We had some missed tackles,” he said. “We were able to limit Sequoyah to a couple of three-and-outs and some third-and-longs, but we had too many three-and-outs ourselves.”
He said mistakes also robbed the Colonels of several good plays.
“Our first play was a 30-yard pass but we were called for [illegal] motion,” he said.
Casko said Cass coaches are using the practices to help players improve.
“We just want to continue to get better,” he said. “We’re trying to do that with four sophomore linemen and one senior who never played much football. We’re working at it, and we’re a work in progress.”
The coach said he feels good about the effort he’s getting on the field.
“Those kids want to be good,” Casko said, “and they’re working hard for us and to represent their school and community well.
“They’re just young. There’s no way around not having experience. You can’t coach it. My job is to coach them up and have them to stay positive. I’m really proud of the kids and the way they’re handling this.”