Region play has arrived for the Carrollton High School football team as this week it begins a gauntlet of eight consecutive 7-AAAAA games that will carry it from now until Nov. 3.
First up for the No. 4 Trojans is a trek over to Dallas at 7:30 p.m. this Friday when they will visit East Paulding to open the league regimen.
The last time Trojan Nation saw their guys in action was a decisive 55-7 steamrolling of Riverdale back on Sept. 1 in their home opener. Since then, Carrollton (2-0, 0-0 Region 7-AAAAA) enjoyed a very productive open date last Friday, where head coach Sean Calhoun and his team got the opportunity to rest up and fine-tune different aspects of their game during the bye week.
"Our main focus was getting back to fundamentals, work on specific scenarios and introduce East Paulding. Overall, our kids did a good job," Calhoun said on Tuesday. "On top of that, both our ninth grade and JV teams beat Rome last Thursday, which was awesome. Now our kids are rested and are very excited about the opportunity ahead of them."
Calhoun knows that win No. 1 in region won't be easy, especially facing an East Paulding team riding high off a 30-14 win at Villa Rica last Friday.
"What a great win for them last Friday on the road," Calhoun said. "To be a really great team, you have to win on the road and they did that, so it was awesome for them."
With the Raiders (1-2, 1-0) under the guidance of first-year head coach Billy Shackelford, the second-year Trojan head man knows that this Raider squad is much different than last year's team that the Trojans hammered 45-7.
"Their kids are playing hard," Calhoun said. "Defensively, they have athletes on all three levels. They love to blitz and play some man coverage. Offensively, they have a really good senior quarterback (John Michael Estes) who can sling it and have a couple of really good skill guys that can run. But the thing that you can really tell on film about them is how hard they're playing. Their effort level is unbelievable, which is the greatest compliment you can give to a coaching staff. We're definitely not overlooking them, by any means."
There's also the specter of this being the Trojans' first true road game of the season, with their first two contests being at nearby University Stadium and within the home confines of Grisham Stadium. Calhoun fully expects a raucous environment for this all-important region tilt, but he is confident his players will be more than capable of handling the environment.
"I expect there to be a great crowd for them, which they should have," Calhoun said. "I know Trojan Nation will travel well. It's going to be an unbelievable atmosphere in Dallas and we'll see how our guys will handle it."
Having experienced two bye weeks already this fall, Friday will begin a full sprint for quarterback Mark Wright, linebacker Kevin Swint and the rest of their Trojan teammates from now until the end of the regular season and potentially a deep run in the postseason. While not a fan of closing the regular season with eight consecutive games for the second year in a row, the Trojan head coach and his team are up for the challenge and will take every week one game at a time.
"The only thing we talk about around here is worrying about what we can control. We have this schedule, so we're doing the best that we can to get physically and mentally ready as we can for this grind," Calhoun said. "We're going to take it week-by-week, day-by-day, and our goal for Game 15 does not change. Our kids did a good job of handling it last year and hopefully we can handle it this year the same."
Friday night's contest will broadcast live on KISS 102.7 FM.