The words came from the mouth of third-year Tigers coach Jim Kremer moments after his team had beaten host Lakeview-Fort Oglethorpe 24-14 to secure a playoff berth as the No. 3 seed from Region 7-AA. Adairsville (9-1) travels to Banks County this Friday and will face the Leopards (7-3) who lost the Region 8-AA championship to North Oconee, 41-0, and are a No. 2 seed.
"Enjoy this tonight, but we're not satisfied," Kremer continued. "We're gonna get some more [wins]. We're gonna take a pack of people wherever we go."
The moment seemed to reflect one Kremer had envisioned when he became head coach at Adairsville.
"When I first came to Adairsville, I was interested in the kids we were getting, but I was big time interested in that ninth-grade crowd, see who could we build our program around. I couldn't ask for a better bunch of kids. Of course to add a little extra flavor to it, your son's involved in that class, you want to see what kind of kids there are and I knew the second day I was there I was gonna be blessed with just super, super kids," added the coach, whose son Cody plays quarterback and is one of 21 seniors. "They have great work ethic; they do good in the classroom; they're just super young men and I'm just so blessed to be around them. ... This class of kids right here, I told 'em it's gonna come down to what senior class wants it the most, and I really believe we wanted it just a little bit more than LFO tonight."
After leading 10-7 entering the third quarter, the Tigers extended their lead on their second possession of the half on a 14-yard touchdown run by Mike Upshaw. The score capped a four-play, 52-yard drive -- which featured 16- and 17-yard gains from Cody Kremer and Upshaw. Place-kicker Dakota Hines slipped on the extra-point attempt and Adairsville held on to a 16-7 edge with 6:12 to play in the third quarter.
A few possessions later, the Tigers began a drive from the Warriors' 43-yard line following a 27-yard punt. Adairsville advanced the ball to the 37, where it faced a fourth-and-4 to start the fourth quarter. With a hard count from Kremer, LFO jumped offsides, giving the Tigers an automatic first down. The Tigers scored four plays later -- aided by a personal foul after a 2-yard loss by Kremer -- as Upshaw took the handoff up the middle and scored from 10 yards out. The senior back also got the call on the two-point try, which Adairsville converted to stretch the lead to 24-7 with 10:50 remaining in the game.
The Warriors then began the longest drive of the night by far at their own 26. LFO needed nearly six minutes and 15 plays to go 73 yards as it twice converted fourth downs -- first on a fake punt, a 5-yard run by Daniel Parrish on fourth-and-2 from the 44, and then on a pass interference call on fourth-and-7 from the Tigers' 9. The Warriors scored following the Adairsville penalty with Bubba Cruz notching his second TD of the game on a 4-yard run. Kyle Trego's extra point with 5:43 left in the game made it a 10-point contest at 24-14.
The margin would remain the same as the Tigers held the ball for two and a half minutes on the possession immediately following LFO's score, driving down to the 28 before turning the ball over on downs on Kremer's 5-yard run.
The Warriors tried to get another score on their final possession, which began with 3:01 to go, but after Levi Scudgins' first-down completion to Parrish on third-and-4 from the 29, LFO had two pass attempts fall incomplete, a 5-yard false start penalty and a sack. Staring at fourth-and-20 from the 25, Scudgins scrambled around looking for an open receiver before releasing a pass under heavy pressure which came closer to Tiger defensive back Kyle Adams than any Warrior receiver. The turnover on downs effectively sealed LFO's fate and pushed Adairsville through to the bonus portion of the football schedule.
"I want to give some big-time props to my coaches -- offensively Doug Byerts, defensively coach [Billy] Roper and coach [Jon] Cudd, all my coaches, coach [Pat] Konen, my offensive line coach, every coach on my staff. This is definitely a team victory here, on both offense and defense, kicking game," Jim Kremer said.
Fresh off of a shutout, the Tigers defense made life rough for Warriors leading rusher Cruz and especially quarterbacks Scudgins and Daniel Deocampo.
"We were mixing up some all-out blitz to zone blitz to dropping eight [players in coverage]. Coach Roper and coach Cudd did a good job of keeping them off-balance. Once you know that they got to throw the ball, you can just peel your ears back and go get 'em and that certainly helps," Kremer said. "They got a well-balanced attack where they try to run it and throw it. Once we knew they were gonna throw it, [we] just went after 'em."
On offense, Adairsville proved to be rather efficient inside the red zone, going 4-for-4 with three touchdowns and a field goal. The Tigers' final possession began at the 25 of LFO and moved up to the 20, but Adairsville wasn't trying to score and kneeled the ball.
"Our offense all year has been pretty consistent. We just had situations where we've settled for field goals and we went for it on fourth down. And our overall total yardage and our willingness to take care of the ball hasn't necessarily reflected our amount of points," Kremer said. "We just need to take advantage and punch those in in the red zone, so I'm proud of our guys for doing that."
Coming into the game off of a 9-0 victory the week before, Kremer had stressed the importance of scoring touchdowns and Adairsville did that early on.
On a fourth-and-8 play, the final play of the first quarter, Trey Gulledge took a toss behind the line of scrimmage and headed left. With LFO's safety cheating up, Gulledge uncorked a pass to the back of the end zone and Christian Howell went up and hauled in the 18-yard TD pass. Hines' extra point made it 10-0 Tigers going into the second quarter.
Hines also had a field goal at the 7:16 mark of the first quarter to give the visitors a 3-0 lead.
Near the top of the second quarter, the Warriors put together a 12-play drive of almost six minutes that ended with a missed 27-yard field goal.
Undeterred, however, LFO got the ball back with 1:04 left in the half, with a starting position at Adairsville's 39 following a punt that hit a Tigers player in the back and rolled 15 yards upfield. The Warriors gained no yards on their first three plays -- a Cruz run and two incomplete passes -- but managed to capitalize on fourth-and-10 when Scudgins' pass found Jackson Wallin, who caught the pass around the 18 over the outstretched hands of a Tigers defensive back and moved down to the 12 for a 27-yard gain. A play later, Cruz scored on a draw play with the Adairsville defense busting into the backfield thinking pass. Trego kicked the extra point and LFO trailed 10-7 with 22.9 seconds left to go before halftime.
The Warriors got the ball back when an Adairsville player fumbled the ensuing kickoff. LFO recovered the turnover but had to begin at its own 42 following a personal foul penalty. The Warriors still got up to the Tigers' 30, but a Scudgins' pass fell incomplete just a few yards beyond the line of scrimmage to end the half.
LFO's season closes a game shy of the playoffs while the Tigers, who had the same feeling as the Warriors two years ago, move on to the postseason. Kremer said his team wants more than just a playoff berth.
"These guys, I really believe they want to go as far as we possibly can," he said. "You just take one [game] at a time. There's gonna be 16 teams eliminated after next Friday. After that, it's going to be down to eight so you can't look at the whole scope of things. You've got to kind of just think about, 'Alright, this is our game, this is our Friday. If we survive this, then there's 16. We survive the next week, then there's eight' and so on and so forth and take one game at a time, but enjoy [it] -- enjoy the playoffs.
"I don't think there should be any pressure on us. We should go out and play hard and fight hard, but the pressure [is off], we have made it. I don't want anybody to interpret that we are satisfied. We are not satisfied. These are kids that are not satisfied, and we want to move on."
Adairsville's first-round playoff game with Banks County is scheduled to kick off at 7:30 p.m. in Homer, which is a two-hour plus drive from north Bartow County.
SCORING BY QUARTERS
1 2 3 4 F
ADA 10 0 6 8 24
LFO 0 7 0 7 14
ADA -- Dakota Hines 29-yd FG, 7:16
ADA -- Christian Howell 18-yd pass from Trey Gulledge (Hines kick), 0:00
LFO -- Bubba Cruz 12-yd run (Kyle Trego kick), 22.9
ADA -- Upshaw 14-yd run (kick failed), 6:12
ADA -- Upshaw 10-yd run (Upshaw run), 10:50
LFO -- Cruz 4-yd run (Kyle Trego kick), 5:43
First downs 13 13
Rushes-yds 39-199 32-81
Passing yds 45 128
Comp-Att-Int 4-10-0 9-26-0
Total yds 244 209
Penalties 8-50 11-92
Fumbles-lost 3-1 0-0
Punts-yds 4-139 6-196
Rushing -- Adairsville: Mike Upshaw 16-117-2, Cody Kremer 12-55, Tristin 3-16, Trey Gulledge 6-15, Ben Bolander 2-(-4); Lakeview-Fort Oglethorpe: Bubba Cruz 21-60-2, Pooh Harden 5-18, Daniel Deocampo 2-7, Daniel Parrish 1-5, Nate Long 1-2, Levi Scudgins 2-(-11).
Passing -- Adairsville: Kremer 3-9-27-0-0, Gulledge 1-1-18-1-0; Lakeview-Fort Oglethorpe: Scudgins 9-25-128-0-0, Deocampo 0-1-0-0-0.
Receiving -- Adairsville: Gulledge 2-26, Christian Howell 2-19-1; Lakeview-Fort Oglethorpe: Joshua McNabb 2-36, Parrish 2-34, Jackson Wallin 1-27, Cruz 2-13, Harden 1-13, Tim Travis 1-5.