Boyd-Buchanan junior quarterback Jim Cardwell has settled into a groove the last two weeks. Cardwell, who has been the Buccaneers starter since his freshman season, has rushed for 353 yards and five touchdowns and thrown for 362 and three more scores in three straight blowout wins.
Cardwell has gained 320 of those rushing yards the last two weeks and is close to surpassing his 12-game rushing total from last year, needing fewer than 100 yards to do so.
Having already started more than 40 games in his career, the son of offensive coordinator Carter Cardwell has been entrusted with a handful of pre-snap options he can check into once he comes to the line.
"If he sees something that he thinks will work better than what we send in from the sideline, he has the green light," Bucs coach Grant Reynolds said. "He's been able to check us into good plays. Depending on what he sees the defense in, he has freedom to make that call, and with his experience and how much time he puts into doing his homework and watching film, we have confidence in him making those calls."
McClellan returns with a bang
Although he never really left, Signal Mountain's James McClellan returned with major production last week, rushing for 183 yards in the Eagles' victory over Grundy County.
McClellan went through the preseason at fullback, but defensive tackle became the 260-pounder's primary position in the first season's first week after Jacob Wright got hurt.
The 6-foot-5, 265-pound Wright suffered a dislocated kneecap against East Hamilton but returned to the lineup last week.
"It was a welcome return," Eagles coach Bill Price said. "We got to do more of what we have wanted to do all season."
In addition to McClellan's rushing totals, Robert Turner added 139 yards on 10 carries.
Cleveland's Jones out
Cleveland's leading receiver, junior D.J. Jones, will have to sit out the Blue Raiders' homecoming game against Red Bank tonight after being ejected late in the first half of last week's 56-28 victory over Walker Valley.
Jones, who had four catches for 139 yards and three touchdowns before being tossed, was flagged for two unsportsmanlike-conduct penalties after scoring touchdowns against the Mustangs. He has 26 catches for 381 yards and six scores this season.
New Pirates foe cancels
South Pittsburg is back to having just nine regular-season games this year after a second potential opponent that had agreed to play backed out. The Pirates had Lancaster Christian scheduled to visit on Oct. 5, but just weeks prior to the season the Smyrna school emailed Pirates coach Vic Grider to say that team would not be making that trip.
Grider replaced Lancaster with Arlington Christian, a Class AA team from Fairburn, Ga., but late last week the Arlington coach called to say his team would not be coming, either.
"I hate it because it's one less home game and it was going to be homecoming, so it will cost us a lot of money," Grider said. "But on the positive side, we've got a brutal schedule coming up and we could probably use a week off to recover before the playoffs."
After tonight's home game against Class 4A Signal Mountain, South Pittsburg will travel to Whitwell for its final District 6-A game before ending the season by hosting 2A's top-ranked Boyd-Buchanan, visiting 4A Polk County and entertaining 2A's No. 2-ranked Grace Christian.
Rossville team honored
Ridgeland will host a pregame ceremony tonight in which the 1962 Rossville High School state championship team will be honored. The ceremony will begin at 6:45, and former players expected to attend the 50th-year celebration include Nelson Bowers, Paul Painter, Leroy Jones, Sherold Walker and Doug Flury.
The Bulldogs that year finished 13-0 in winning their third state title since 1954. Tonight's opponent for the Panthers, Cedartown, provided the toughest game for the Bulldogs that season. Rossville defeated Cedartown 21-19 in the region championship game before downing Elbert County 21-0 in the North Georgia finals and beating North Clayton 28-6 in the state-title game.
Bledsoe back to basics
After consecutive losses to Signal Mountain and Notre Dame, Bledsoe County is going back to basics.
"The kids work hard in practice, but we're going back to square one," Warriors coach Jason Reel said. "If we can't do three things right, then we're going going to try seven. They're not used to losing, and now we're going to find out how they're going to handle it."
The Warriors might have something of a new look soon, depending on the health of quarterback/receiver Dakota Wooden, who's been out with a broken collarbone suffered against South Pittsburg.
"I'd like to see him getting reps soon," Reel said. "He could help us, whether it's at quarterback or receiver."
Hustlin' Tigers end skid
Howard became the area's second team to snap a long losing streak last week. Rashad Brummitt scored on a 5-yard run early in the fourth quarter and Howard's defense made it stand for a 20-14 win over Central, ending a 13-game skid that dated back to the 2010 season.
Walker Valley ended a 16-game losing streak with a season-opening win over East Ridge, marking only the second time in the Mustangs' 11-year history that they won their season opener.
Howard's win leaves Meigs County with the area's longest current losing streak. Meigs has lost its last seven games (five this year), while Central is 0-4 this year and lost its last two games last season. Brainerd and East Ridge have lost their last five.