Game of the Week: Cartersville vs. Calhoun Preview

Cartersville and Calhoun headline the game of the week. This week’s Drive for the GHSA State Title matchup is between Walton and North Paulding, who will face off on Peachtree TV at 8 PM this Thursday due to Hurricane Ian.

Cartersville comes in at 5-0 fresh off a bye week and blazed through their non-region schedule averaging 38.4 points per game in the five-game stretch. Calhoun is 3-2 and also enjoyed a bye week. Their last time in action was against Sonoraville, where they secured a 40-7 victory.

Cartersville Coach Conor Foster previews region seven and the matchup against Calhoun.

“It’s a competitive region—with a lot of great talent and coaching. Obviously, Calhoun coming up first is a huge game because it is the first region game. They are a rival and a great program we have a tremendous amount of respect for. It will be a rocking environment here on Friday Night. Calhoun has a very talented team and a great coaching staff.

Players to watch out for Calhoun are running back Caden Williams and TE Emaree Winston. Williams is a versatile junior who can line up in any position on offense. Winstone is only a sophomore but has flashed big-play ability while on the field. Calhoun coach Clay Stephenson chimed in on both players’ impact this season.

“It starts with our running back Caden Williams, who does a little bit of everything. He is an old-school football player that can lineup at any position and do it well,” said Stephenson. “A tough runner and blocker as well. He’s a great pass catcher out of the backfield. He’s done a lot for us this year. Looking forward to these next five games for him to continue doing that.”

“We got a big tight end that missed a couple of games early but has come on strong here lately,” said Stephenson. “Emaree Winston has had a lot of good catches, and he’s just getting his feet wet again back in the trenches.”

A player to watch out for Cartersville is sophomore receiver Jamauri Brice who leads the Hurricanes in catches and yards and is tied for most receiving touchdowns on the team. Coach Foster raved about the young man and what he brings to the team.

“Jamauri has been electric. His future is bright. We feel like he is nowhere close to his ceiling. He is learning to develop his talent,” said Foster. “Elite athletes take what they’ve been given and get the most out of it. I think Jamauri has taken the weight room more seriously. He’s taken the details and route running more seriously. He’s made some big plays for us in some really big moments. At the same time, he’s been a great teammate. He’s blocked his tail off and hustles down the field.”

Also, defensive end Jaylen Scott has been making plays defensively and has impressed his coach this year.

“Jaylen Scott has really stepped up. He’s a young man that has played some tight end and defensive end, and he will play both sides Friday Night,” said Foster. “Scott is a long, athletic young man. He’s learning to be consistent with his physicality and effort and has grown up a lot for us this year. I’ve been really proud of him.”

A matchup to look out for is Cartersville’s offensive line vs. Calhoun’s defensive line. Cartersville has several players on their o-line that have power five offers and this year returned four starters. Both coaches weighed in on the offensive line.

“We have four returning starters. Jonathan Cline gets the most accolades. He’s a Central Florida commit who plays left tackle for us. A big guy, a mover, really strong. He sets the tone for our team in the weight room and on the field,” said Foster. “From there, we have Jaden Akins, a returning starter for us at guard, a three-year player. At the center, Luke Surrett has an East Carolina Offer. He is a junior and a second-year starter. At right guard is Malachi Toliver, a first-year starter with multiple power five offers. That’s the heartbeat of our team.

“Cartersville has a great offensive and defensive line every year. So upfront, that is how they are so consistent year in and year out,” said Stephenson. “Their front five on offense are big, strong, and tough, and they finish blocks really well. Being able to get a stalemate or control the line of scrimmage is going to be key one way or another. If they can establish that or we can, that will be a huge key to the game because that is their strength and something that definitely has our eye.”

Both coaches chimed in on the keys to victory and how their teams can come out with wins in their first region game.

“I think it’s about focusing on our standard and being the best we can be. Our kids understand our expectation for preparation. They understand it will take a great week of prep to be successful on Friday Night,” said Foster. “Right now, we are focused on all the details and ensuring we are cleaning up all of those and ready for a physical game. You have to take care of the football, limit big plays, and win upfront.”

“It will come down to turnovers, and being able to control the field position on offense and defense will work itself out. We have to limit our turnovers and maybe get one or two, and be solid on special teams,” said Stephenson. “Those will be the key things. I feel like being able to win the battle up front, getting some turnovers, and controlling field position. Anytime you get two good teams, that is what it comes down to, and that is what we will look forward to doing.

Cartersville is 31-6-1 all-time against Calhoun. Cartersville won last year’s region matchup 21-14.


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