The winner will control its destiny as its plays two more sub-region games while the loser will need help to claim the sub-region title.
“We’re going to have to play great football to beat Pepperell,” head coach Jim Kremer said. “We also have to have some guys step up for us.”
The Tigers have the better overall record this year, but both teams are 2-0 in Region 7A-AA. Adairsville is 6-0 overall and its sub-region wins include Coosa (20-12) and Armuchee (47-20). They also have victories over Ridgeland (17-14), Dade County (28-7), Sonoraville (38-14) and East Hall (26-3).
The Tigers are scoring 29 points per game while allowing 11.
Pepperell, which is 4-2 overall, defeated Armuchee (41-32) and Rockmart (41-6) in the region. They picked up their region wins from Cartersville (12-0) and Chattooga (57-50 in two overtimes). Their losses were to state AA power Calhoun (39-7) and AAA’s Central, Carroll (14-10).
They average scoring 28 points per game and allow 23.
Kremer said this year’s edition of the Dragons is similar to their past successful teams.
“The Dragons line up and point to where they’re going,” he said. “They’re saying, ‘Are you man enough to stop us?’ I don’t think we can stop them, but I believe we can slow them down and maybe let them make some mistakes that will stop them.”
He said his team is in for a stern test. “It’s going to be a very physical game. They believe in what they’re doing.”
Pepperell’s running attack has been solid with Janier Ferguson leading the way.
Two weeks ago Ferguson ran for more than 400 yards and four touchdowns against Armuchee. Friday night, he scored three touchdowns while claiming more than 200 yards of real estate against Rockmart.
Kremer said it’s an improving Tiger team that will make the journey to Pepperell.
He said its offense is beginning to diversity and that is a big requirement if it is to realize its hopes to make the postseason.
Running back Mike Upshaw has been carrying much of the running load for the team and has some impressive numbers to show for it.
“Mike is averaging more than a 100 yards per game for us,” the coach said.
Upshaw is coming off a four-touchdown game against Armuchee. He exploded for 270 yards.
Adairsville’s passing attack, spearheaded by quarterback Cody Kremer, is improving each game.
Two of Kremer’s favorite targets are Hiram Velez and Christian Howell. Velez has snared three touchdown passes the past two weeks and is a threat to score from any point on the field. He caught four passes for 154 yards and two touchdowns against Armuchee, while Howell, who caught three passes for 58 yards, helped the Tigers move the chains early and spread their defense for Upshaw to exploit. It was the second week in a row Velez has tallied more than a 100 yards through the air.
Coach Kremer said other players have been stepping up their game, including Zack Coker, Austin Harrell, Cody Keim and Trey Gulledge.
He noted the Tigers have benefited from strong play by the offensive line.
“With any team it starts there,” Kremer said. “We’ve got a good attack, and it allows our linemen a lot of double teams. With us being an option-first team, it opens a lot of things up and allows us to play with power and finesse, which is a really good fit for us.”
The Tigers also have hung their hat on their defensive play.
Michael Hall was credited with 11 tackles against the Indians. “I think Michael played probably his best game ever Friday night,” Kremer said.
The coach said their wins have been team victories but there have been a lot of good play on the part of his players.
“It’s time these kids are getting a little more recognition, and that’s something that could happen with a win over Pepperell,” he said.
Kremer said another ingredient in the team’s success has been the support of the community.
“The Adairsville community is behind us 110 percent,” he said. “We get a lot of respect from our community, and they have given a lot of support for their young men and women who are involved in our program.
“It’s an awesome atmosphere.”
He said the matchup with Pepperell is about assuming the lead in the sub-division but much will still be decided after today’s contest.
He said the teams remaining on both squads’ schedule are formidable, and the Tigers and Dragons will have to come to play if they are to have a chance of picking up wins.
He said the matchup with Pepperell is what high school football is all about.
“They’re a good team. We’re a good team,” Kremer said. “We’ve worked hard. They’ve worked hard. Now it’s time to go out an finish the drill.”
Pepperell won the matchup with Adairsville, 47-26, a year ago. Kickoff is at 7:30 p.m.