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Friday night storylines: Dalton plays for region title, other teams battle for playoff seeding

Oct. 27—Dalton at Cartersville for a region title

After Dalton knocked off Calhoun last week for the first time 2016, Dalton can tonight accomplish something else not done by a team in Dalton since that 2016 squad:

Win a region championship.

Dalton (7-2, 3-1 Region 7-5A) plays at Cartersville (9-0, 4-0 Region 7-5A) tonight at 7:30 tonight for a shot at the Region 7-5A title.

A win over undefeated Cartersville nets Dalton the region championship. A loss would crown Cartersville as region champs and put Dalton anywhere between the second and fourth seeds, depending on how Hiram and Calhoun close the season with games against Woodland and Cass, respectively. The most likely scenario including a Dalton loss would be Hiram and Cass both winning and setting up a three-way tie for second with Dalton. Dalton would then slip to fourth for the playoff seeding thanks to the tiebreaker procedure.

Dalton can avoid all that, though, and win a region championship outright, with a win.

To do that, Dalton will have to topple a Cartersville team much more used to winning region titles in recent seasons. Cartersville has won nine region championships — and two state championships — since 2012. Current Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Trevor Lawrence piloted those two state titles during his time as a Purple Hurricane.

Cartersville comes into the showdown with Dalton with an unblemished record in 2023, but the Canes haven't gotten there without showing a little vulnerability.

Cartersville played a trio of close Region 7-5A games. Cartersville slipped past Calhoun 21-17 and squeaked by Hiram, the team that handed Dalton its region loss, 35-34 at home. Cartersville even went into overtime against Cass, eventually pulling out a 21-14 win over a Cass team that Dalton handled 38-13.

While Dalton has used balanced offense, led by quarterback Ethan Long and running back Adriel Hernandez, to get wins, Cartersville does a lot of its damage in the ground game with a stable of runners led by senior Khristian Lando.

Dalton will have to play much better defense against the run than the Catamounts did against Cartersville last season.

In a 39-14 loss, Dalton gave up 407 ground yards to a Cartersville team that needed just 13 passing yards to beat the Catamounts.

Dalton's defense has been a much-improved unit in 2023, giving up 20.7 points per game compared to 31.2 a year ago, but the Catamount defense will face its toughest test of the season against Cartersville.

Dalton has 22 region championships in its history. The Catamounts have won four this century, winning in 2007, 2013, 2015 and 2016.

Coahulla Creek likely needs win over LaFayette for playoff chase

With defending Region 6-3A champion Adairsville looming next week, Coahulla Creek likely needs a win tonight to keep hopes alive for a return to the Class 3A playoffs.

Coahulla Creek (4-4, 3-2 Region 6-3A) hosts LaFayette tonight at 7 p.m.

LaFayette sits at just 2-6 and 1-4 in Region 6-3A, but have some competitive games against good competition on their résumé. LaFayette lost to Bremen 34-28, while Bremen blasted Coahulla Creek 44-7 last week. LaFayette also lost to Gordon Lee by the same one-point margin as Creek did.

With just two games to play and a 3-2 region record, the playoff picture for the Colts is still fairly murky. The simplest way for the Colts to lock up a second straight playoff berth is with a 2-0 finish, but Creek can also clinch the playoffs with at least one more win and at least one Ringgold loss. There are still scenarios that, should Ringgold win out and Creek lose one, would leave Creek, Gordon Lee and Ringgold in a three-way tie for third in the region and one of them on the outside looking in.

All of that starts with the need for a win tonight.

Creek's offense stumbled in a 44-7 loss on the road against a Bremen team that, despite a 7-1 record, has been much more dominant at home. Bremen won just 21-14 on the road over winless Ridgeland and 34-28 over 2-6 LaFayette, but blew out a pair of likely playoff teams in Gordon Lee and Coahulla Creek at home.

Prior to the Bremen game, Creek's offense had found some rhythm in a 3-1 stretch in which the Colts averaged 29.5 points per game. The Colts will try to get back to that tonight as they resume the hunt for the school's second ever playoff berth.

Northwest Whitfield tries to topple undefeated Central-Carrollton

After taking its first Region 7-4A loss last week against Heritage, the task doesn't get any easier tonight for the Northwest Whitfield Bruins (6-2, 2-1 Region 7-4A).

Northwest hosts 8-0 Central-Carrollton (3-0 Region 7-4A) tonight at 7:30 in Tunnel Hill.

With two games left to play, Northwest is still alive for a region title and can still miss the playoffs. One more win for the Bruins or a loss for Sonoraville makes a return to the playoffs official after missing out on the postseason a year ago.

One more win becomes a tall task when standing in the way are undefeated Central and then a trip to defending region champion Cedartown to close out the season.

Northwest had won five in a row prior to stumbling 28-21 against Heritage last week.

Central, meanwhile, has rolled to an 8-0 record. A 21-17 win over Northgate was the only win that came by less than 10 points all year for the Lions, which are powered by 1,000-yard rusher Jonaz Walton.

An upset win would put Northwest in a position to potentially play for a region title next week. A loss would leave the Bruins fighting for seeding.

Christian Heritage closes out regular season against Mt. Zion

Christian Heritage finishes up its Region 7-A DII slate, and its regular season schedule, with a home game tonight against Mount Zion.

The Lions (4-5, 0-1 Region 7-A DII) host Mount Zion (3-5, 0-0 Region 7-A DII) tonight at 7:30.

Christian Heritage started the year assured of the playoffs and at least the third seed in a three-team region, but the Lions could essentially clinch a home playoff game and the second seed with a win tonight.

Mount Zion still has to play defending region champion Bowdon, which romped over Christian Heritage 48-17. With a loss against Mount Zion, Christian Heritage would be the third seed.

The Lions hope to carry over some offensive momentum after a game last week in which Christian Heritage set a new season high with 48 points.

Quarterback Carter Triplett has been the engine of the Christian Heritage offense all season long, both on the ground and through the air. Triplett tossed five touchdowns last week, including three to Charlie Idom, and ran for another.

The offense's resurgence has helped Christian Heritage rally from an 0-3 start to go 4-2 since, with the two losses coming against a pair of 7-2 teams in Ensworth and Bowdon.

After tonight's game, Christian Heritage will be off for a week before starting the Class A DII playoffs the following week.

Murray County hosts Haralson County

Competing in Chatsworth tonight will be a pair of 1-7 teams looking to get a second victory this season.

Murray County (1-7, 0-4 Region 7-2A) hosts Haralson County (1-7, 1-3 Region 7-2A) tonight at 7:30.

Murray's first four Region 7-2A games came against the four playoff teams in the region, but the schedule somewhat lightens from here, with winless Gordon Central next on the schedule.

After showing offensive improvement in four non-region games to start the season, Murray was stymied against those good region teams, totaling just 27 points across the last four games.

Haralson, although coming in with just one victory, has at times outplayed what that record shows.

Haralson led at halftime against North Murray before falling 28-16, and the Rebels held Model to just 14 points in a 14-0 loss.

Southeast hosts Cedartown in final home game

After a trip to undefeated Central-Carrollton last week and a 61-0 defeat, the task doesn't get all that much easier tonight for the Raiders.

Southeast (1-7, 0-3 Region 7-4A) hosts defending Region 7-4A champion Cedartown (5-3, 2-1 Region 7-4A) tonight at 7:30.

Cedartown hasn't been quite the same team that reached the 4A state championship game a season ago, but the Bulldogs blanked Sonoraville 45-0 last week and defeated Dalton earlier this season.

Southeast, which went 1-4 in a non-region schedule but had two of those losses come down to the final play, has been less competitive against the tough teams in 7-4A.

The Raiders have been shutout for two straight weeks and lost 49-13 to Heritage the week prior.

Already eliminated from the playoffs, Southeast will travel to Sonoraville next week to wrap up their season.

North Murray rests, prepares for Rockmart

North Murray is idle tonight as the Mountaineers prepare for their own region title game next week.

North Murray meets Rockmart on the road next Friday, with the winner taking the Region 7-2A crown.