Drive for the GHSA State Title: Cass at Cartersville Preview

An unranked but upset-minded Cass (4-2, 1-0) team will face a tall task Friday when it travels to Class 5A No. 4 Cartersville (6-0, 1-0) Friday to determine the front-runner in the Region 7-5A standings.

For Cass, it has been a long time since the program felt it could hang with its region-rival.

“We are just now to the point after three years where we feel like we can run the football and mash people,” said Cass coach Steven Gates. “We’ve been somewhat undersized and young in my first couple years. Now some of those younger guys are getting a little bit older, and we got some size.”

Undersized it may be, Cass is carrying a four-game winning streak and momentum along with it. On offense, the Colonels will look to a powerful offensive line, led by Arkansas-commit Bear McWhorter and power-five prospect Kail Ellis, to keep the pocket clean for star quarterback Broddie McWhorter.

“We are just now getting to where we can establish the run,” he said. “We always worried about having to throw it and get first downs that way, and now we feel like we can do it.”

The receiving room is led by Georgia-commit Sacovie White, who has been a huge miss match through six weeks. The Colonels skill position players will try to create space and yards after the catch, to put even more pressure on the Purple Hurricanes defensive backs.

Cartersville enters the game after a come-from-behind 21-17 victory over Class 5A No. 5 Calhoun last week, keeping its record blemish-free.

The Cartersville offense has continued its trend of offensive excellence through the season that has seen its offense score more than 30 points per game every season since 2011. They will rely on their offensive line, led by Georgia-commit Malachi Toliver, to meet the Cass defensive front.

Sophomore Cartersville quarterback Nate Russell is 54-of-91 passing for 758 yards and seven touchdowns. Jamauri Brice is a favorite target with 13 receptions for 230 yards and three receptions through five games. Khristian Lando has 64 carries for 348 yards and nine touchdowns to anchor the Cartersville run game.

On defense, the Purple Hurricanes will face one of the most talented offenses they will face all season. However, their defense has been one of the best in the state, giving up less than 10 points per game. Cartersville will have to rely on its front seven to stop the Cass rushing attack and put pressure on McWhorter, forcing him to extend plays and make big throws on obvious passing downs.

“On defense, we want to give offenses different looks,” said Cartersville coach Conor Foster “We want to be multiple on defense and not feel like the offense is going to dictate to us what they are going to see. We want to throw different looks at a quarterback or offensive coordinator and not let them get comfortable with what they are going to see from us.”

Across the field, the Cass defense will have its hands full trying to slow down the balanced offense of Cartersville. The Colonels will look to defensive lineman and Appalachian State-commit Kaden Ellis to disrupt the dominant Cartersville offense front. In the secondary, Cass will look to two-way star White and Liberty-commit Devin Henderson to try and slow the talented Cartersville skill position players down.

“The big thing when you play them is trying to eliminate the big play,” Foster said. “But you have to understand with the talented guys they have, there are going to be some big plays, but try to limit them.”

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