High school football weekly wrap: Northside-Russell County matchup deserved conclusion

dmitchell@ledger-enquirerOctober 2, 2012 

It took a couple of extra days to digest last week’s high school football action. That, and I was on the road writing stories for Georgia’s surprisingly close victory over Tennessee.

Whatever the case, we get an early-week report this week rather than a weekly wrap. And the first thing I have to mention, which still isn’t entirely clear to me, is the 14-14 tie between Russell County and Northside.

For those of you who missed it on Friday, Russell County’s Cameron Brooks returned a punt 90 yards to tie the score with just over seven minutes remaining in the game. Neither team was able to put anything else on the scoreboard, so the game was, presumably headed for overtime.

As Lee Corso would say, however: Not so fast, my friend.

Because it was a non-region contest, overtime was not required, and Northside (2-2-1) coach Paul Cates made the call to end it in regulation.

Why?

“We had composure issues at the end,” the coach said after the game. “It was probably a rash decision, but I took the decision upon myself. It might have been hasty. The kids are not happy about it, but it’s on me. I have to live with it.”

Russell County (1-3-1) coach was disappointed, stating that he thought “somebody deserved to win that game.” Cates said his own players weren’t happy. And, really, it didn’t sound like Cates was too thrilled about the decision, either.

It’s unfortunate it ended that way. It doesn’t take anything away from the efforts of either team, but it does kind of leave that sense of unfinished business, even in those of us that weren’t involved in the contest.

In the broad scheme of things, the game didn’t matter a whole lot. It wasn’t a region contest and, therefore, a win or a loss (or a tie) won’t affect the teams’ standings for the playoffs.

But there are few things in sports that I dislike more than that gaudy third column in a team’s record, the one which indicates ties.

I’m sure coaches had their reasons for this, and I won’t question the motives. But I think we can all agree a completed contest is better than the alternative.

Brookstone comes up short

This might be one of those salt-in-the-wound statements, but Brookstone is mere plays away from still having a spotless record.

It has now suffered back-to-back losses, but lost the two games by a combined seven points (17-14, 7-3).

In talking with coach Brad Dehem two weeks ago, he mentioned on a couple of occasions the advantage his team defense has over the offense. It wasn’t a shot against the offense, it was just a statement that his team was taking a little longer to absorb the new offensive scheme.

No shame there.

And I think he hit it right on the money, given the manner in which it has lost its last two games. The defense has clearly been a factor for the Cougars, limiting the two opponents to an average of 12 points per game. Meanwhile, his offense sputtered to just 17.

I can imagine it’s frustrating for Brookstone to know how close it is to a perfect record right now. Sometimes, being blown out is less frustrating than losing a nail biter. It’s the nail biters that you sit and rehash in your brain for the next few days.

But it’s important to remember how close Brookstone is. The defense is clearly there, and the offense is currently in a learning process. Once the offensive scheme clicks and the results begin to come on the field, this looks like a team that could have a lot of future success.

Quick hits

Lots of quick hits, here, and I’ll start with Carver. I’ve questioned Carver’s progress on a couple of occasions, mentioning that it had a long way to go before reaching a level at which it contend in the state playoffs. I think it’s beginning to reach that level. Its 38-3 win over Pike County last Friday was its most complete game of the season. There were still too many penalties and coach Dell McGee mentioned there were still things to improve upon, but Carver is beginning to look like a contender again….Let’s look at one game from Pacelli’s schedule and compare it to last season. On Friday, the Vikings shut out Central-Talbotton 35-0. Last season, Central won the game 38-6. What a difference a year makes. Pacelli isn’t there yet, but it’s hard to find a better story than the Vikings early-season run of success so far. They play Brookstone on Friday with a chance to begin the season 5-0 after winning just once in the two preceding seasons. Impressive….How about Harris County in a double-overtime victory? Those games are long and rigorous, and it takes a lot for a team to pull a win out. Give the Tigers their due for that one….Teams that are making some serious strides: Smiths Station and Spencer.

Making the grade

Some notable performances from teams and individuals this week.

-- Traveon Samuel, Central: Also our player of the week, Samuel did it all in Central’s 33-31 win over East Coweta on Friday. Take a look at the numbers: 192 yards and four touchdowns rushing, 104 yards receiving. Not half bad. Central has itself a player, and I’m interested to see what else is in store for him going forward.

--Duncan Newton, Calvary Christian Newton was just a touch away from being the player of the week this week, playing a great game when Calvary Christian, which was coming off a loss and a forfeiture of two wins, needed it the most. Newton went for 133 yards and two touchdowns rushing and 65 yards and a score through the air. Not enough? He also intercepted two passes. Huge game.

--Danny Ryles and Torrance McGee, Carver: Ryles ran for 119 yards and two scores and McGee was 12 of 17 for 174 yards and three touchdowns passing to lead the Tigers offense in a 38-3 win over Pike County. Also worth mentioning: The Carver defense was equally impressive, allowing just 185 yards, three points and sacking the quarterback four times.

Think someone else belongs on this exclusive list? Let me know in the comments or on Twitter @leprepsports.

Power rankings

Here's a look at the area's power rankings. I'll list my top 5 each week. Spirited, but civil, debate is encouraged in the comments.

1. Central

Winning ugly is just as important as winning pretty. It doesn’t really matter at the end of the day how you won, as long as it’s a W and not an L. Central appears to have a number of offensive weapons. It needs to improve on its consistency, but this is still the top team in the area.

2. Carver

There was that complete game I was talking about with Carver. Sure, it was Pike County, not Peach. But it’s important to make improvements week to week, which the Tigers have clearly done. There were issues at times, but Carver looked a lot more like the state contender it was billed to be at the beginning of the season.

3. Pacelli

Does Pacelli have a lot to prove? Yes. And as a Class A team, it’s not on the same level as some of the other higher classification teams in the area. But when we’re doing power rankings, we consider the teams’ success within their respective classifications. Right now, Pacelli is unbeaten, and No. 3 is where it deserves to be.

4. Smiths Station

There are a lot of teams that could round out the Nos. 4 and 5 slots here, but I’m going to go with Smiths Station this week. That was a big win over Beauregard. There are certainly signs of life coming from the Panthers.

5. Glenwood

Shaw shouldn’t drop out of the top 5, but it’s going to because of Glenwood’s blowout win on Friday.

Follow me for scores, news and opinions on Twitter @leprepsports

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