High School Football

Cougars expect challenge in opener at Carrollton

by Doug Gorman

Newnan head football coach Mike McDonald can’t be accused of scheduling lightweights to open the season, especially not this year.

When the Cougars kick off the 2014 season Friday, they’ll do it on the road against one of the most successful programs in the state. At 0-1 in its first year under new head coach Ed Dudley, Carrollton remains a formidable first opponent.

The Trojans, which fell 20-7 to Class AAAAA foe Kell last week in the Corky Kell Classic at McEachern, may be even more determined to open their home schedule at Grisham Stadium with a victory against Newnan.

“I really wish they had won,” McDonald said. “They are going to be mad and hungry for a victory. You don’t get selected to play in the Corky Kell if you are bad.”

Newnan hopes to build off the momentum from its scrimmage effort against LaGrange, outscoring their opponents 23-7 and capitalizing on four first-half turnovers. It’ll be two weeks since the Cougars have hit the field, however.

“The kids are excited,” McDonald said. “We are all excited. It’s going to be a great challenge. It’s a great environment over there. It should be a great football game.”

It’s the 23rd meeting between two historically strong programs from bordering counties, but only the first since 2007 following a five-year stretch where the Trojans won five of six annual meetings, each held during the second week of the season.

Newnan’s staff will have some familiarity both among the program and personnel. The Cougars added co-defensive coordinator Marvell McKelphin, who ran the Trojans’ defense under Rayvan Teague in 2013 while also an assistant under two previous head coaches at Carrollton including the late Ben Scott.

Teague retired after 13 years, the last of which saw the program reach the Class AAAA state championship game against Griffin in a 56-35 barnburner won by the Bears.

There’s ample talent returning from that 13-2 squad, though it will come in a shift of offensive and defensive schemes. Dudley, who returns to the school following head coaching stints at Buford, Walton and Ware County where he’s posted a record of 186-76 has gone from Teague’s traditional wing-T to shotgun sets of the Pistol.

Junior tailback Jarvis Terrell, who set a new school record in the 100 meters, is back while contributing Carrollton’s lone touchdown last week during a 77-yard effort.

Newcomer Damarcus Mitchell, a junior, got the nod at quarterback while competing in the preseason with Jack Garrett following the graduation of 2013 starter Will Garrett. Mitchell finished 7 of 14 for 70 yards while the younger Garrett was 1 of 3 passing.

The Trojans have also gone to a 3-5 scheme on defense familiar to those Newnan has run in the past. The Cougars have moved to a more traditional 3-4 set this fall, one that came up with several key stops against LaGrange in their preseason scrimmage.

Carrollton’s defense is led by junior linebacker Roury Glanton, who had 14 tackles last week against Kell. Longhorns standout quarterback Cam Rosendahl was 16-for-22 passing for 180 yards, but was sacked by four Trojans.

While McDonald heads into his fifth season as head coach — reaching the postseason each time — there are equal changes this year for Newnan’s offense and defense, mostly among schemes. The Cougars, coming off a 6-5 season, saw immediate success while moving to a multiple-I with third-year starting quarterback Bailey Bryant under center.

Both Bryant, a senior, and backup Chancellor Johnson, a junior, had success throwing the ball in play-action situations. The two were a combined 5 of 8 passing for 136 yards while each throwing a touchdown.

Depth at running back, led by senior J.K. Britt, who has committed to North Carolina, has been as much a reason for a switch out of the shotgun. He finished with 99 yards on 14 attempts with a touchdown against LaGrange while looking 100-percent healthy following an injury-plagued junior year that kept him mostly on defense through the final five games.

“It’s great to have him back healthy,” McDonald said.

Marquis Hill, Darryel Hines, Kelvin Khayyam and Damion Key are all in the mix for carries this year while Britt returns to a starting safety position.

Newnan’s secondary could prove to be a plus this fall. Along with Britt, sophomore Kadarius Satterwhite recorded his first interception in this year’s scrimmage. Senior Frankey Williams returns to one starting cornerback position after leading the team with Britt in interceptions. Senior Mitchell Burk manned the other starting job against LaGrange.

Williams also caught a 70-yard touchdown pass in his first game at receiver. Along with Satterwhite, senior Randell Arnold and freshman P.J. Harris, the group hope to solidify a position that was hit hard by graduation on offense.

Last season Bryant threw for 1,438 yards 11 touchdowns and 8 interceptions, with Arnold coming up with 37 of his 133 completions.

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