A win at Sandy Creek on Friday would give Cartersville some rare company. Out of Sandy Creek’s 87 all-time opponents, Cartersville is one of just 12 teams that has a winning record against the Fighting Patriots. It’s Marist that leads the way with a 4-0 all-time record against Sandy Creek, but Cartersville could join the War Eagles at 4-0 all-time with a win at the Battlefield. The two programs last met in the quarterfinals of the 2014 playoffs. What seems like a distant memory, is actually the game that previewed the unparalleled success we are seeing today with Cartersville.
Then-freshman quarterback Trevor Lawrence, passed for 305 yards and a touchdown to lead the Purple Hurricanes to a back-and-forth 35-31 victory. It was this game that I realized how good Lawrence was and how good Cartersville was going to be for years to come. Seeing a freshman quarterback show the poise and skillset to eliminate three-time state champion Sandy Creek was eye-opening. The week following Cartersville’s win over Sandy Creek, Buford stopped the Purple Hurricanes run with a 27-3 semifinal victory on Dec. 5, 2014. If you hadn’t heard, this was the last time Cartersville saw the loss column.
Since the semifinal loss to Buford, Lawrence and Cartersville have compiled a state-best 22-game winning streak, including a 10-0 state championship win over Buford in last year’s Class AAAA final.
Lawrence will face the Patriots once again, now that the two programs are region opponents for the first time since 2007. It’s impressive to see how far he has come since bursting on the scene with his ninth grade victory over Sandy Creek. Today, Lawrence wears the title of the No. 1 ranked junior prospect in the entire country (and has been surgical passing the football this year to validate his status). The 6-foot-5 quarterback has completed 63 percent of his passes for 1,900 yards, 24 touchdowns and seven interceptions through Cartersville’s first seven games of the season. He has also rushed for four touchdowns in the past two games.
Sandy Creek will need a solid performance from junior quarterback Bryant Walker and much more to keep pace with Lawrence. Running back Jaelen Green is coming off his second three-touchdown performance of the season after taking 13 carries for 106 yards in last week’s 47-19 win over Chapel Hill. Sandy Creek has excellent team speed, but it will also take timely plays to keep the ball out of the hands of Cartersville. Kaleb Slaughter is the top receiving threat for Sandy Creek and enters Friday with a team-high six receiving touchdowns.