Carrollton, Rome defenses clash … Buford opens region play
Here’s the question about this week’s game between No. 6 Rome and No. 2 Carrollton: Will either team’s offense be able to put in any points on the board against two of the best defenses in Class AAAAA?
Rome (2-2) has one of the best collection of defensive linemen in the state and Carrollton (4-0) has a ballhawking group that not allowed more than two touchdowns and has posted a defensive score in each of its game.
“Our defense has been playing very well,” first-year Carrollton coach Sean Calhoun said. “Coach Brian Simmons (defensive coordinator) has them taking the ball away. They practice it and you’ve got to have kids who want to do it.”
The young Carrollton defense is led by cornerback LaDamion Hunt, a 6-foot, 185-pound senior who has committed to Indiana. Some of the other key pieces are underclassmen: junior defensive lineman Josh Walker, who already has multiple Division I offers; junior linebacker Jeremiah Pierce; sophomore defensive lineman R.J. Russell; and freshman outside linebacker Kevin Swint.
Rome features defensive end Adam Anderson, a junior who has great quickness and hits like a truck. Anderson already has offers from Alabama, Georgia, Ohio State and Miami. Tackles Jaquon Griffin and Jamarcus Chatman, juniors who already have DI offers, make up an imposing front. Outside linebacker Jaylen Griffin, a senior, has already committed to Virginia Tech and has a strong combination of size and speed.
“This is a tough matchup for us,” Calhoun said. “But I think they’re a tough matchup for anybody. When you have four kids that can put their hands in the dirt and rush the passer and still play the run as well as they do, it’s quite a challenge.”
Calhoun has also been warning his team about Rome’s skill when it comes to trickery.
“I think they may be the best team I’ve ever seen at executing the trick play. They do it just right,” Calhoun said.
The stakes may be a little higher for Rome, which already has one loss in Region 7. The Wolves lost to No. 4 Kell, the other power team in the league that most observers view as the “SEC of Class AAAAA.”
Calhoun said, “I tell our kids, you’d better know the situation your opponent is in and they’ve gone through. We expect Rome to bring everything they’ve got.”
The two traditional powers haven’t played since 1992-93, with Carrollton winning both times.
Here’s a look at other big games this week:
Clarke Central at Buford: No. 1 Buford opens its Region 8 schedule by hosting Clarke Central, which is coming off a huge emotional win against rival Cedar Shoals. The Wolves (3-1) have won three straight games against out-of-state opposition since losing the opener to Class AAAAAAA No. 1 Roswell. Two good quarterbacks will be on the field – Buford’s Mic Roof, a senior who has committed to East Carolina, and Clarke’s Jack Mangel, a junior who is maturing in his role. This will be the first meeting between the two schools.
Starr’s Mill at Griffin: No. 5-ranked Griffin (5-0) will have its high-powered offense challenged by a very sound Starr’s Mill team (2-3) that is better than its record might indicate. Griffin is averaging 525 yards per game behind the offensive line of Deundrez Williams, Wydarious Andrews, Cedric Webb, Luke Davis and Devin Keen. And East Coweta will have its hands full with Malique Route, who returned two punts for touchdowns last week and had six catches from QB Tylan Morton, who had another 350-yard night. The two schools have played only once, with Griffin winning 24-7 in 2010.
Stockbridge at Locust Grove: No. 2 Stockbridge (5-0) has a test waiting when it plays the Wildcats (4-1), whose only loss was in a 49-34 shootout at Jones County earlier this month. Locust Grove’s Caleb Huntley had 200 yards in total offense a week ago against Hampton and coach Clint Satterfield’s team has shown it can score points. But can Locust Grove slow down the Stockbridge running game that averages 250 yards per game? The two teams haven’t played since 2013. Stockbridge leads the series 4-0, three of those wins coming by shutout.
Carver at Grady (Saturday): If anybody wants to stop No. 8 Grady (4-1) in Region 5, Carver (4-1) may have the best chance. Both teams have suffered their only loss to schools from a higher classification. Grady is led by quarterback Caylin Newton, who has thrown for 1,545 yards, and receivers Jacquez Sloan (441 yards) and Kemari Averett (349 yards). Carver ‘s Quentin Gates has rushed for 648 yards and Octavious battle has thrown for 917 yards.