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Despite close loss, Cardinals looking up

By Rory Sharrock

rshorrock@news-daily.com

It's been an interesting two weeks for the Jonesboro Cardinals (1-1).

Last Friday, the team traveled southbound for Titletown, USA and almost pulled off the biggest win in school history. Jonesboro led for the majority of the game, but came up short, falling 14-10 to the No. 7-ranked (now No. 8) Valdosta Wildcats (3-0).

As a result of the competitive game against a state-ranked and nationally acclaimed team, the Cards flew up in the polls, receiving four votes in the Associated Press Georgia Class AAAA rankings.

"That's a thrill. But we haven't beat anyone in the region, so we can't worry about that," said Jonesoboro head coach Clint Satterfield.

"These region games is what it's all about. Dutchtown is rolling. They had a big win for their school history in beating Stockbridge. They're rolling and I think we're the underdogs. We're used to being in that role, so I don't see us being anywhere else."

Now, with the state and region on notice, Jonesboro has a target on its back and it takes this mark across the county line for a pivotal match with Dutchtown (2-1, 1-0) in the Southern Crescent Game of the Week.

"I think if we come out with the same intensity as we did against Valdosta, I don't think it will be a close game. If we keep working hard like we've been doing, we should come out with the win," said Jonesboro senior quarterback Cliff Crews.

This will be the inaugural meeting between these county border schools. Last year, both teams were sub-divided in Region 4-AAAA with Jonesboro residing in 4A and Dutchtown in 4B.

However, with realignment, they now share the same space and tonight's winner will help clear room for a potential playoff berth as a region representative.

"It's kind of unique because it's the closest schools between Henry County and Clayton County. I feel we had a good week and we're anxious to get back on the field," said Satterfield.

Jonesboro will have to rely on its aggressive defense to stop Dutchtown and its stable of horses in the backfield, including Gibran Johnson, Joe Stewart and Kelvin Tanner.

The Cards have surrendered 14 points per contest in two games versus Morrow and Valdosta. This will be key as Dutchtown has averaged 19.3 points this season, including consecutive 20 points outings against Lee County and Stockbridge.

"We are going to have to read our keys and play hard because they run the Wing-T. We have to read our keys, make plays and have 11 hats on the ball. We're going to play hard on every down," said senior middle linebacker Michael Carlisle.

Throughout the week, Jonesboro's coaching staff has been busy in the lab brewing up a scheme to counter Dutchtown's running back by committee strategy.

The Cards will rely heavily on the defensive line to stuff the holes, which will allow linebackers like Carlisle to roam freely and pick their spots for blitz packages.

"Watching them (Dutchtown) on film, they're very disciplined. With the offense they run, we have to be disciplined on defense. What happened in the past last week, that's over with. This is a new week. Dutchtown is 2-1 and putting up 20 points a game, so we have to show up on defense," said Jonesboro defensive coordinator Tim Floyd.

Kickoff for the region game is at 7:30 p.m.