Just one week after going the distance in a heavyweight slugfest against the two-time defending state champion, the Carrollton High School football team is putting the gloves back on for another top contender to the 7-AAAAA throne.
The No. 5 Trojans are hopeful of delivering the KO blow this time around when East Paulding steps between the Grisham Stadium ropes for the 7:30 homecoming bout, a Friday night extravaganza that Carrollton head coach Sean Calhoun anticipates going the entire 12 rounds once again.
"Last Friday, it was a war. Just major shots taken on both sides. I guarantee they were sore, too," Calhoun said of the No. 1 Wolves following the 65-51 shootout at Barron Stadium. "We were sore and a little bit beat up. We've got to learn as a coaching staff still how to have a good week of practice, but still bring them back and be physical. We ice-bathed on Sunday and we (did) again on Thursday. It's how this region is. You've got to find a way to get your body and your mind back to being 100 percent by that following Friday at 7:30. That's the goal. We're going to have good practices, but I need them 100 percent Friday at 7:30."
East Paulding (1-2, 1-0 Region 7-AAAAA) is coming off a wild affair of its own in a 33-31 victory over Kell last week in Dallas, where star tailback Tyrell Robinson accounted for 223 of the Raiders' 296 yards of total offense, including touchdown runs of 60, 10 and 33 yards. Through three games this season, the explosive senior talent has 665 all-purpose yards and Calhoun needs no reminder of just how dangerous Robinson is after nearly leading East Paulding to the upset of his Trojans last year in a 43-41 barnburner to open the 2017 league slate.
"I voted for him last year to be the region player of the year. I think he's special. He's that one where I know for me, when he gets the ball, I hold my breath and hope that we can bottle him up. He's that explosive. He runs that hard," Calhoun said. "They're playing a couple of different quarterbacks. They've got some receivers now, too. They do a good job of run-pass, a good job of play-action. Again, just well-coached. That's why they're 1-0 in the region. We're going to have to be focused and locked in."
The Trojans (3-1, 1-1) will also have to deal with the distractions from homecoming, and Calhoun said it's a matter of being mature and understanding what the main attraction of homecoming week is when all is said and done.
"I want them to be high school kids and I want them to have fun during homecoming week and during the parade," Calhoun said. "Those are times that you're going to remember forever. But it can't be more important than 7:30 on Friday. It can't be more important than your academics all week. It can't be more important than my focus and the game plan that we have for East Paulding."
After all, there are major state playoff implications on the line for a pair of squads hoping to secure a home playoff game to kick off the Class AAAAA postseason. Calhoun said it's going to be extremely difficult to overcome Rome now with the Wolves basically holding a two-game lead with the head-to-head win.
On paper, the Trojans would be the favorite to secure the No. 2 seed. But, of course, games aren't played on paper and tonight marks another big test for the Black and Gold.
"I don't know if we're the No. 2. I definitely know Rome is the No. 1. That I can say. We're going to have to prove that we're the two," Calhoun said. "That's going to start by handling business this Friday. Here on out, every game is so important because it's a playoff seed. It's going to be hard to get the one seed at this point. Rome would have to lose twice, which that ain't happening. So we're going to have to handle our business. It's focusing on every single game and every single practice. It's the most important game and important practice of the year so far."
Friday night's contest will broadcast live on KISS 102.7 FM.