However, before the Purple Hurricanes can take on Ringgold, they have to defeat Sonoraville tonight at Weinman Stadium to keep their undefeated record intact.
“They beat Gordon Central 56-8 [last week], so they can score a lot of points,” Cartersville head coach Frank Barden said of Sonoraville. “It’s the next game, so it’s very important for us.”
The Phoenix are currently 3-5, but faced a challenging out-of-region schedule and are 3-2 in the region. They have averaged nearly 30 points per game in region play.
“Offensively, they’re a spread team that has a very good running back and quarterback,” Barden said. “I would say with the running back and quarterback, they do a little more running than throwing.”
Barden is also concerned about Sonoraville’s defense.
“The coaching staff they have up there does a great job,” he said. “They’re going to be familiar with us. I expect the scheme to be their strength as far as what they’re trying to do to stop our offense.”
Barden and the Canes will be facing a familiar foe tonight, not just because they play a region rival, but they face a coach with experience scheming for their offensive attack.
“They are a lot like Adairsville because that’s where the [former] head coach, [Jim Kremer] went to be the defensive coordinator,” Barden said. “Defensively, they are a lot like Adairsville. They’re a 3-3 [defense] like Adairsville so they’ll be very similar.”
As always, Cartersville needs to be weary of a letdown against a team it’s favored against. Sonoraville is especially dangerous because it is one of two teams in Region 5-AAA fighting for the fourth seed in the region and a playoff berth.
“[Sonoraville] has this game and then a big game next week against LFO,” Barden said. “The biggest thing is we need to get done, Monday through Thursday, what we need to get done, and make sure that we get better to play them.”
Sonoraville will have its work cut out for them dealing with the Cartersville offense featuring several offensive weapons and quarterback Brooks Barden running the show.
Barden has thrown 32 touchdowns this season, the most by any quarterback in Georgia in any classification. He also has 1,876 yards passing this year despite not completing six of the team’s games because Cartersville decided to show mercy on its opponents. He threw for 306 yards and six touchdowns last week against Adairsville.
With plenty of weapons on offense, including T.L. Ford, Mark Quattlebaum, Gordon Gray, Kalin Heath and standout freshman receiver Trase Fezzia returning from an illness this week, the Canes will be Sonoraville’s toughest opponent.
“One strength of ours is the experience with our skill guys. They’ve seen a lot of stuff over the last three years,” Barden said. “I think the biggest improvement, and it’s what we wanted to do, was our running game. In the absence of Brandon [Long with a season-ending knee injury] we wanted to take Kalin, Tiamon [Pennymon] and now Jessie [House] and run. And I think that’s one of our biggest areas of improvement, the offensive line.”
Cartersville has faced a lot of different defensive looks from teams trying to stymie the Canes’ offense. Barden is unsure of what to expect from the Phoenix tonight.
“It’s different every week. Some people choose to rush us and some people choose to drop back and play zone,” Barden said. “It’s really different every week and we usually have to prepare for everything.”
One thing the Canes are looking forward to is playing a game in Cartersville for the first time in nearly five weeks.
“You’ve been gone the whole month of October and haven’t been in Weinman Stadium, so it’s going to be nice to be back and it’s going to be nice to be home,” Barden said. “It’ll be good to come out of our own locker room.”