Resurgent Carrollton ready for Sandy Creek

After missing the playoffs for the first time since 1987, Carrollton set a goal in the offseason. The Trojans wanted to be the turnaround team in the state. But they got off to a rough start.

Carrollton lost three straight games to begin the year. In opening blowout losses to Kell and Newnan, they turned it over eight times. Things looked bleak for the proud Carrollton program. Fans were restless; so was second-year coach Ed Dudley. The Monday after the loss to Newnan, however, Dudley saw something in team and his senior class. They weren’t giving up.

The following week, the Trojans lost a close game, 24-20, to Calhoun, the defending Class AAA state champion. It was a turning point.

A month later, Carrollton is riding a five-game win streak into Friday’s region rivalry showdown at Sandy Creek. The Trojans (5-3, 3-0 5-AAAA) have already surpassed last year’s win total and locked up a playoff berth.

“We felt like we had underachieved a year ago and not played up to our capabilities,” Dudley said. “We worked hard on our conditioning to get ready for the season. And all that kind of backfired through games one and two. We had not played very well. Everybody had thrown us under the bus and written us off for a year. But the players kept coming back to the Monday team meeting with a good attitude, with the desire to get better and improve. It showed that they really weren’t as bad as people were making them out to be. We played well against Calhoun, but didn’t get a win. But we started to gain a little confidence. And I think our senior leadership, our key guys on the team, never lost faith that they were really going to be that turnaround team.”

Senior captain Roury Glanton, a two-way star at mike linebacker and fullback, leads the team in tackles. Senior defensive end Mario Gamble leads the team with 2.5 sacks, and senior running back Jarvis Terrell is averaging 7.1 yards per carry for the Trojans. Senior defensive backs Keegan Hill and Conrad Jackson, who moved from running back to safety this season, also have made significant impacts on the Trojans’ turnaround, Dudley said.

Sandy Creek (6-2, 2-1 5-AAAA) has won the last five meetings with Carrollton. Dudley says his players believe they can end the streak Friday.

“We don’t kid our self,” Dudley said. “We look at Sandy Creek as a top four or five team in the state … great coaching staff, great players, great program. We know we’re going to have to go in there and play clean, not turn the ball over, not make those fatal errors that we’ve done in the games that we haven’t won.”