Battered by injuries and plagued by turnovers, not a whole lot went right for the Carrollton High School football team in its 41-14 homecoming loss to Hiram last Friday night.
With two losses in the last three outings, the Trojans will be thrust into another battle with major postseason implications tonight at 7:30 when they travel to No. 10 Kell in Marietta.
The Carrollton players and coaching staff have done all they can this week to keep a short memory and leave the Hiram loss in the past. With several stalwarts like quarterback Mark Wright sidelined with injuries, the banged-up Trojans (5-2, 3-2 Region 7-AAAAA), who fell out of the state rankings for the first time all season this week, couldn't hold back a Hornet attack that began in the first quarter and carried throughout the entire game.
Turning the page this week, Carrollton head coach Sean Calhoun likes how his team has handled the loss and focused its attention to the challenge ahead.
"Our kids are a very resilient bunch," Calhoun said. "They've done a good job of forgetting about it, doing the best they can in practice and focusing on the task at hand in Kell."
One thing that has creeped its ugly head for the Trojans over the past several games have been turnovers. Carrollton turned the ball over four times last Friday, three of them leading to Hiram scores on the ensuing drives. Calhoun has continued to emphasize the importance of taking care of the ball and not giving away easy points.
"We've been reminding them of just the impact that it has on the game," Calhoun said. "We've been mostly emphasizing positive stuff and how we can put ourselves in the best situations possible to win."
When they make the hour-and-a-half trek up to Marietta this evening, Carrollton will be taking on a Kell ballclub that is surging at the right possible time. After starting the season off 0-3, the Longhorns (4-3, 4-1) have ripped off four consecutive region wins, including last week's 38-18 victory at Villa Rica. As part of the often-talked about "Big 3" of the region, Calhoun is very familiar with what Kell head coach Brett Sloan and his team will be putting on display tonight.
"Kell is going to throw everything they've got at us," Calhoun said. "They're explosive offensively and do a lot of very good things. They just know how to move the ball and have a good mobile quarterback (Evan Conley) to do it. Defensively, they're strong and are really good up front. They do a lot of stuff when it comes to formations and blitzing, so we'll have a big challenge on our hands, for sure."
The winner of this contest will take ownership of second place in the region, which would put them in a position to start the postseason at home. Calhoun and his team understand what's at stake here and are confident that they can head into C.J. Kell Stadium and leave with a win.
"Our kids have had a really good week of practice and I really feel like that's going to translate onto the field," Calhoun said.
Tonight's contest will broadcast live on KISS 102.7 FM.