There is a lot of buzz circling around the Week 8 schedule in Class AAAA, and Region 7 is going to be at the epicenter of all the excitement. The week started off with Marist jumping Cartersville to take over No. 1 in the poll. Knocking the undefeated Purple Hurricanes from No. 1 was significant—Cartersville is 6-0 this season and has gone 61-2 the past five seasons. Cartersville’s narrow 16-14 win over Central-Carroll, however, opened up an opportunity for Marist, which has dominated the competition throughout its own 6-0 start and was rewarded for its level of dominance.
Marist taking over No. 1 is a big storyline moving forward, but the rest of this week is going to be about two of the War Eagles’ region counterparts that will be facing off in this week’s most anticipated matchup. The game being referred to is Denmark at Blessed Trinity and it is the most intriguing matchup that I have come across in all the seasons I have been writing about Class AAAA. Here’s why.
For starters, we have a two-year-old program (Denmark) that is loaded with talent, facing off against the classification’s two-time defending state champion (Blessed Trinity). Last year, Blessed Trinity dominated 47-6, but this year will likely be much more competitive with Denmark coming in with a 5-0 record that includes four shutouts and a 44-point average margin of victory. Denmark’s roster featured only underclassmen last season and now they have a core group of guys familiar with the challenge this week. The Denmark program is expected to be reclassified into a higher classification after this season, so there is a window of opportunity to do something big this season. It is not hyperbole to say that ‘this is the biggest game in the history of the Denmark program,’ because it absolutely is.
"The game this week definitely has a different feel to it primarily because we have been talking about this game so long to our football team,” Denmark head coach Terry Crowder told the AJC. “To really be considered a top program, you have to play, beat or compete against some of the best programs in the state. To date our two biggest games - last year Forsyth Central and Flowery Branch - we are 1-1. Neither of those games feel or could do as much for our program as a win over Blessed Trinity."
Before the season started, I had a feeling that Denmark could end up being this year’s dark horse to win the state title Watch Out For Denmark in 2019. And so far, the Danes are playing inspired football on both sides of the ball and have been outstanding—exceeding those expectations in convincing fashion. Coach Crowder knows first hand how much this game matters and he has faced the Blessed Trinity program quite a bit over the years.
“Blessed Trinity and Marist is two different animals,” said Crowder this offseason. “I had played Blessed Trinity every year when I was at Creekview and I had also played Marist before. It’s just a different animal and our kids weren’t ready for it. They just absolutely were not ready and we kind of had that sneaking suspicion.”
Last year’s lopsided loss to Blessed Trinity was a wake-up call and the loss to Marist went just as poorly. After Denmark went behind 7-0 after the first quarter, a disastrous second quarter came that included five Marist touchdowns in less than two minutes, propelling the War Eagles to a 50-7 halftime lead and 57-7 win.
The results this Friday will show just how competitive the race for the Region 7-AAAA championship will be, and Marist will have a vested interest in the result as they are taking a trip to Denmark a week from this Friday.
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