Despite being considered heavy underdogs in 6-AA, the Tigers have streaked through the region in convincing fashion, including posting a 7-0 win over Chattooga on Friday in the regular-season finale for both teams.
By picking up the victory, Adairsville earned the No. 2 seed from the region, while Chattooga (which got some outside help from Calhoun on Friday night) will be the No. 3 seed when the playoffs open next Friday.
“This team has really overachieved this year, and I don’t mind saying that,” said Adairsville coach Johnny Gulledge. “They have had a ‘refuse to lose’ attitude all season.”
After opening the year with a loss and a tie against two non-region opponents, the Tigers have now won seven of their past eight games — all of which were region contests.
As a result, Adairsville (7-2-1, 7-1) will get to host a first-round playoff game next week.
“I can’t tell you how proud I am of this bunch,” said Gulledge, who directed the Tigers to back-to-back 6-A championships the past two years. “Next week we host our fourth playoff game of the past three seasons, and for a small town like Adairsville, that’s a big accomplishment.”
As was beating Chattooga. Especially under these conditions.
Playing on a sloppy field and against an inspired Indians team, the Adairsville squad managed to continue their season-long theme — finding a way to get the job done.
The Adairsville defense was simply terrific, holding Chattooga to just 94 yards rushing on 36 attempts (an average of 2.6 yards per carry).
Offensively, Adairsville’s biggest weapon, fullback Eddie Evans, was limited to just 80 yards on the night but he came up huge when the game was on the line. He registered 50 of his yards in the second half, and scored the game’s only touchdown with a 9-yard run midway through the third quarter.
The two Adairsville quarterbacks also delivered several momentum-turning plays.
Herod Moore, the starting QB, highlighted Adairsville’s scoring march — which was an 8-play, 55-yard drive — by completing a 24-yard pass to Dustin Cantrell.
Drew Elrod, who also saw plenty of snaps at quarterback, produced two of the longest gains of the night with his 18-yard completion to Tarvis Scott in the first half and his 19-yard run on an option keeper in the third quarter.
“I thought both quarterbacks really stepped up,” said Gulledge. “They are both very capable players, and they showed it tonight.”
“Overall, I was real pleased with the way the kids rose to the occasion tonight,” the coach added. “I thought our football team showed some real heart.”
So did Chattooga, which used a superb performance by its defense (which surrendered less than 200 yards of total offense to the explosive Adairsville squad) to stay within striking distance all night.
“I told our kids that tonight was a character check,” said Chattooga coach John Starr, “and I feel like they passed the test. They never gave up.”
Lopaz Hayes played courageously, but never could break loose on the wet field. He finished with 69 yards on 21 carries.
“I think the wet field slowed us down a little bit and kept us from doing some of the things we normally like to do,” said Starr. “But I was proud of the effort. The only thing I was disappointed in was that we didn’t do a better job of holding onto the football.”
The Chattooga receivers dropped several passes on the night, and the Indians were also guilty of three fumbles, one of which set up the Adairsville touchdown.
Next week, in the opening round of the playoffs, Adairsville will host the No. 3 seed from Region 7-AA while Chattooga will visit Washington-Wilkes