The Pickens Dragons face their toughest test of the 2013 season this Friday night, as the Cedartown Bulldogs make the trip to Jasper, Georgia to face off in an important sub-region matchup at Dragons Stadium.
The Dragons, who currently sit at 4-1 on the season, must show up ready to play, as the Bulldogs are currently 6-0 and are ranked seventh in AAAA, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the Georgia Sports Writers Association, and Georgia Public Broadcasting. Cedartown is also 1-0 in the sub-region thanks to a 41-25 victory over the River Ridge Knights last week at home.
The reason for Cedartown’s rise this season is no secret: it is senior running back Nick Chubb. Chubb, who is already verbally committed to Georgia, has continued to set the pace for the rest of the Peach State, and at this point he leads all backs in rushing yards with 1,532 yards through six games. Chubb also has an average of 10.7 yards per carry on the season as well as twenty-four touchdowns, making it quite apparent that he is a running back that must be reckoned with.
Although the Bulldogs’ utilized Chubb a good bit last season, the team is even more formidable this season thanks to the emergence of junior quarterback Harrison Barnett, who has done his part through six games to take some of the pressure off of Chubb, which was part of Cedartown’s problem in last year’s 54-35 loss to the Dragons. Although the focus of Cedartown’s offense will undoubtedly be on Chubb, that does not mean that Pickens should shy away from pressuring Barnett, because doing so could lead to some big plays through the air.
The key to this game will be for the Dragons’ defense to display the fundamentals throughout four quarters of football, specifically wrapping up on their tackles. Cedartown is a very dangerous offensive team, so attempting to make “big hits” through diving for the opposition instead of going for the clean wrap-up could very well turn what should have been a ten-yard gain into a seventy yard touchdown, which will take the air out of any team’s sails. The Bulldogs’ defense has played very well so far this year (allowing just 18.0 points per game), but it does not appear as if Shannon Brooks, Tanner Brumby, and the rest of the Pickens offense will be unable to score on Friday night; the question is whether or not they can keep up with a Cedartown squad that has put up at least thirty-three points in all six of their victories this season.
Prediction: The Dragons play very good in front of a packed crowd, but they are unable to outplay Cedartown and Nick Chubb on this night. It’s a close game going into the fourth, but a 44-yard touchdown run by Chubb halfway through the quarter puts this one away. The Dragons cut into the Bulldogs' lead with a touchdown pass from Brumby to Brooks with under one minute left in regulation, but they are unable to get the ball back on the ensuing onside kick. Final Score Cedartown 35, Pickens 27