Canes' success spurs community spirit
by Matt Shinall
Dec 07, 2012 | 2976 views | 0 0 comments | 10 10 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Cartersville High School Football Coach Frank Barden, alongside the football team, speaks during this morning's pep rally ahead of tonight's game between Cartersville and Buford. The winner will advance to the state championship. JESSICA LOEDING/The Daily Tribune News
Cartersville High School Football Coach Frank Barden, alongside the football team, speaks during this morning's pep rally ahead of tonight's game between Cartersville and Buford. The winner will advance to the state championship. JESSICA LOEDING/The Daily Tribune News
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Cartersville High School seniors, from left, Trevor Gotkowski, Connor Justice, Drew Lawson and Will Landrum stand along the wall in front of the student crowd at this morning's pep rally ahead of tonight's gridiron game. JESSICA LOEDING/The Daily Tribune News
Cartersville High School seniors, from left, Trevor Gotkowski, Connor Justice, Drew Lawson and Will Landrum stand along the wall in front of the student crowd at this morning's pep rally ahead of tonight's gridiron game. JESSICA LOEDING/The Daily Tribune News
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Tonight, two high school football teams will do battle on the gridiron, but behind this and other games is a proud community at home in Cartersville.

Inside the halls of Cartersville High School, Principal Steve Butler sees excitement every day. Earlier this week students made an effort to be named Team of the Week by an Atlanta news station and this morning the community will join the student body for a public pep rally at Weinman Stadium.

“It’s a great atmosphere. There’s a buzz in the community. There’s a buzz amongst the kids and the teachers. We were in the running for the Fox 5 Team of the Week and we made very good use of the computer labs and we had a very loose cellphone policy today, but unfortunately we still lost to Jefferson County,” Butler said. “We’ve got big stuff going on. Every Friday morning, Coach [Frank] Barden has his radio show on 1450 WBHF ... so I called our mayor, Matt Santini, who does the show and asked if he thought they could do the show here live Friday morning then we’ll go from that straight into a pep rally where we’ll recognize all our kids. We’ve invited parents, touchdown club members and the community. We just want to recognize the great accomplishment of the kids.”

The weekly radio segment with Barden welcomed students this morning into Weinman Stadium. Starting the day with a pep rally, Butler hopes the rest of the school day can be as “normal” as possible for students.

Cartersville Mayor and WBHF 1450 AM General Manager Matt Santini has seen the excitement from several angles, looking forward to today’s broadcast as well as economic effects within the business community from out-of-town guests.

“We’ll be broadcasting live from Weinman Stadium, doing Frank’s interview there and that will lead into their pep rally. As they pile into school, they’ll just go right to the stadium, so we’ll have the whole student body there and the neat thing is, since it’s outside at Weinman Stadium, the public can come and take part in the pep rally free of charge,” Santini said. “It’s just been wonderful. Last Friday night was such a great experience. Getting to have the team to be able to play at home, it may be a little tough to get around on Friday nights, but all those people coming into town have to eat somewhere and some are spending the night. Some are taking some extra time around town and I have gotten compliments from people out of town about the hospitality they have gotten when they were here and also about the quality of how our community looks. A lot of them have never made it up to Cartersville before and we hope that, other than the 48 minutes on the football field, they enjoy their time here and decide to come back.”

Butler, a former football coach himself, reminds others that support and excitement is due to more than just success on the football field. Coaching Harrison High School for eight years, including an appearance at the Georgia Dome, he has an appreciation for academic and extracurricular activities and likes to see the community support all student activities.

“I think anytime you have successful extracurriculars it makes your school year special. We’ve had a lot of changes this year, we changed the schedule, got a new principle and leadership — but first and foremost, I go in the classrooms every day and kids are learning. That’s most important. The kids are doing their job in the classroom and the teachers are doing their job in the classroom,” Butler said. “The accomplishment of the football team is a major achievement, but our competition cheerleaders have already gotten second in state, both our cross country teams won their region championships and I think it was seventh and 12th in state. Then our One Act Play placed second in region, volleyball finished second in area and went to second round in state and softball made it to state for the first time in years.

“So it’s been a great, great fall and we just hope it carries over into the rest of our sports. ... For me coming in as a new principal, I realize things are going to be different everywhere you go and there’s not necessarily a right or a wrong way to do things, but you just want to be able to recognize the kids for what all they’ve done. Here, the teachers really support the kids and that’s one of the things that makes this a special place.”

Cartersville’s semi-final bout against Buford is set for 7:30 p.m. The game will be available to view online at www.ghsa.playonsports.com.