EAST POINT, Ga. — During halftime of Carver-Columbus’ 12-6 win over Carver-Atlanta at Tri-Cities on Saturday afternoon, I took a trip down to the concession stand.
While waiting in line, I overheard a group of Panthers fans discussing their counterparts from the south and their first-half performance in the game.
Their comments were typical of an opposition, especially one reviewing a team as highly-touted as the Tigers:
Carver-Columbus, which had played in Class AA in 2010-11 and Class AAA in 2012-13, wasn’t ready to play big-time high school football in Class AAAAA, which it joined this season.
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“This isn’t small-school football anymore,” one fan said. “This is a whole different animal.”
The Tigers’ many well-known college recruits weren’t as special as everyone said.
“He ain’t special,” one Panthers fan said about a Carver-Columbus player. “All hype.”
To be fair to these obviously passionate fans, the Tigers didn’t play their best game in the season-opener. The offense left quite a bit to be desired with dropped passes, missed blocking assignments and a couple overthrows to open receivers.
Coach Joe Kegler lamented the offense’s inability to finish drives, stalling in the red zone on three of five trips.
The defense played well most of the contest, but also appeared weary in the closing minutes, nearly allowing a touchdown that could have given the Panthers the win.
But to judge these Tigers off of this one performance would be irresponsible. This is a team with a lot of potential, poised to flourish down the stretch this season.
Quarterback Jawon Pass has all the physical potential in the world, standing at 6-foot-5 and 225 pounds. He has a powerful and normally accurate arm and incredible balance and power with his feet.
Running back Isham Alexander exploded onto the scene in the first half on Saturday, rushing for nearly 100 yards and a score in the first two stanzas before missing most of the second half with an injury.
Defensively, everyone knows the names of Mekhi Brown and Khane Pass, and if they don’t know sophomore Javontay Smith, they will soon enough.
The list could go on.
It’s true Class AAAAA will be a brand new nut to crack for Carver. And if it plays in two weeks against Creekside like it did against Carver-Atlanta on Saturday, the Tigers will have rough go of it against the defending champs.
The offensive line was way too porous against the Panthers on Saturday, and that will be key in helping the Tigers down the stretch. If that unit can’t hold up, the entire house of cards will come tumbling down in a heap.
But it was the season-opener, and it was against a good football team. It was in excruciating heat, and injuries and exhaustion wore the team down.
Let’s give this team a little time to jell. If I were to bet, I’d say it’s a dangerous squad come November.