By Brian Paglia
Jonesboro second-year football coach Tim Floyd found out a great deal about his team in its opening game against Tri-Cities last week, even if it was in a 28-25 loss.
He found that the Cardinals (0-1) have a capable quarterback, dynamic wide receivers and an improved offensive line. He found that they have a better running game than last season. And he found that his team has more mettle and fight in it than a year ago.
But while Tri-Cities offered Jonesboro a respectable test -- it averaged 3.8 wins a season the past decade -- this week will be different. The Cardinals face rival Mt. Zion, a regular playoff contender.
Floyd had a capable quarterback, dynamic wide receivers and an improved offensive line and running game last week. Will he still have that this week?
"Anytime you can play a playoff team, I think it's a good measuring stick to see where you are," Floyd said.
"Especially being this early in the season. It can really open up your eyes, tell you that you really weren't as good as you thought you were, or you may be a little bit better than you thought you were."
One week of football is a small sample size.
Yet, many Southern Crescent teams find themselves facing opponents tonight that make just the second week of the season a critical juncture for their progress.
Woodland (1-0), coming off its first playoff appearance in school history last season, started its season on an encouraging note.
The Wolfpack defeated Fayette County 34-18. They took a 22-0 lead in the first quarter. But they also committed three turnovers that let Fayette County make it 22-18 at halftime.
Is the Wolfpack offense the mistake-prone one that committed three turnovers in one quarter or the proficient one that struck for 22 straight points in the first quarter?
They'll find out against Starr's Mill, which opened with a 41-0 victory over Coosa.
"Like anything else, it's not a matter of who we play," Woodland coach Scott Schmitt said.
"It's a matter of how we prepare each week. We like to talk about taking it one rung at a time. ...
The ultimate goal for us is to get better fundamentally."
Union Grove (0-1), coming off its fourth playoff appearance in five seasons, was outmatched by Class AAAA No. 1 Northside-Warner Robins.
The Wolverines were shut out, 38-0, after losing just 21-10 to the Demons in last season's Class AAAAA second round. Quarterback Ty Moore suffered a concussion, and sophomore Jonathan Self will play in his place.
The Wolverines began the season with great promise and Coach Paul Burgdorf has made sure during practice this week there is no hangover from the Northside loss against Fayette County tonight.
"There is no way that Northside game will define us this season," Burgdorf said. "Our goal as a coaching staff is to make sure that we shake off the Northside loss and that Northside doesn't beat us again this week. And I think we've done a good job of that."
Questions abound across the Southern Crescent this week --
Is Ola as good as it played in upsetting Henry County? Is Henry County as bad as it appeared in losing to the Mustangs? Both get tough opponents to get answers. Ola hosts Whitewater, which nearly beat defending Class AAAA champion Sandy Creek last week. Henry County hosts Eagle's Landing Christian, which is ranked No. 8 in Class A.