That’s why North Paulding, which will provide Woodland yet another crack at a region power when the two teams hook up in Dallas tonight, has shocked no one this year by winning most of its games right out of the chute.
The Wolfpack is 3-1 in Region 5-AAAAA and is one of three teams currently tied for fourth place in the region, where Woodland is 0-5.
After Friday’s game, the Wildcats will have played the region’s six top-ranked teams. And that doesn’t include their scrimmage against state power Cartersville. This edition of North Paulding is capable of putting a lot of points on the scoreboard. It is averaging 36 points per game, third highest in the region. The Wolfpack has been allowing 20 per outing.
Woodland head coach Vince DiLorenzo noted the Wolfpack was a region power last season, too.
“They were the surprise team in the region last year and they did well,” he said. “This year no one has been surprised by how well they’re doing, but it doesn’t make it any easier to beat them. They’ve kind of picked up from where they left off. Their offense is continuing to score a lot of points.
“We know the type of battle we will be getting. It will be another challenge for us to take who we have and line up and play hard for four quarters.”
One aspect of that challenge is how quickly the Wolfpack quarterback will have the ball in his hands after the last play.
“North Paulding runs a no huddle offense,” DiLorenzo said. “They try to snap the ball as soon as possible after the ref puts it down.”
He said it’s one thing to hear they center the ball rapidly, but it’s another when you’re on the field facing that attack.
“We knew last year that they were a no huddle team, but it still was a surprise at how quickly they started their offense.”
DiLorenzo said most Wildcats will be better prepared but added some players will be on the field stepping up into starting positions.
“When you have new guys out there trying to get lined up and there is no time for adjustments,” he said, “that can be a big challenge.”
DiLorenzo said the Wolfpack may be stronger on the other side of the ball than its stats suggest.
“When you have a team that scores as often as North Paulding,” he said, “you’re back on defense pretty quickly as well.”
He said that gives opponents longer to put points on the board. Still, the Wolfpack defense is capable of frustrating offenses.
“Their defensive players really fly to the football and are very aggressive,” DiLorenzo said. “They will have 11 quality players on the field together at once, and they all play really well together.”
As for Woodland, its offense will get another chance tonight to see how far it has come this season. But there are some extra challenges, as there have been all season, due to injuries.
“We continue to look for ways to move the ball downfield and get in the end zone,” the coach said. “Mason Robinson will be our starting quarterback again but we’ll have to move people around to fill in some holes we’ve got due to injuries and other things. It means some of our players will just have to step up and fill up the hole in the lineup. That’s been something we’ve had to do all season, have the next player line up and get ready to play.”
The Wildcat defense has that same challenge of injuries to players.
“Defensively, although we’ve been playing well, we have some players out and we’re having to move some up so we can field 11 players who we feel are 5-AAAAA caliber.”
The coach said while there have been a lot of injury challenges, they exist every year.
“This time of year you always have people hurt,” he said. “Sometimes you’re lucky and are playing the same guys all year and they get comfortable with one another. Here it seems to be that our lineups change regularly, but we’re not the only school that has that problem. We just have to deal with it.”
The two teams have played two common opponents, New Manchester and East Paulding.
The Wildcats fell to New Manchester, 21-0, and to East Paulding, 30-0.
The Wolfpack lost to New Manchester 41-30 but defeated East Paulding, 27-13.
Kickoff for the game is at 7:30 p.m.