The Saints Go Marching In!
The Cedar Grove Saints are having a terrific run. Last year Coach Jimmy Smith’s Saints got on a roll, and took it all the way to the championship podium in the Georgia Dome winning the Class AAA title.
This year, the Saints have reeled off 12 straight wins, are ranked number 1 in Class AAA, and have advanced to the Great Eight of the GHSA Championship Playoffs.
“Everyone around school, the students, teachers, administrators, everyone is pretty fired up as we continue in the playoffs”, says Saints coach Jimmy Smith.
And the thing of it is: this team has hardly been challenged this season. The Saints have scored 522 points averaging 43.5 points a game. The Saints defense has thrown four shutouts, allowing just 83 points giving up a stingy 6.9 points a game.
Now, let’s look at the margin of victory in those 12 games. Cedar Grove has outscored the opposition by 419 points which makes that margin of victory just a whisker under 35 points a game. The closest contest all season long was a 28-7 win over Pace Academy.
The Saints have been led by the play of quarterback Xavier Dennis, running backs Israel Spivey, Darrell Neal, and wide receiver/defensive back Jadon Haselwood who, as a junior, is considered the top wide receiver in the entire country.
“Jadon has done a great job of making plays and I am even finding him time in the secondary, because he is just a guy that makes big things happen”.
The coach also had a lot of kudos for his offensive line…
“Up front is where our success really starts,” Coach Smith says. “I have some young guys up there this year but they have played hard and given a great effort every game, every practice. That is really where it all starts.”
Coach Smith also admits Dennis is doing a great job for the Saints at QB. “He is everything you would want in a quarterback. He is smart. He can throw it. He makes good decisions. He has only been in this offense one year and he knows it better than guys who have been in it two or three years. He is a great leader and a high character guy. I don’t know what college coaches are waiting on because whoever gets Xavier will be getting a terrific player on and off the field.”
Defensively, the Saints have a hard hitting eleven led by linebacker Isaiah Ratcliff and defensive backs Rashad Preston and Kortney Cox.
Coach Smith has done a great job in his five years at Cedar Grove. The first season produced a winning record at 7-5, and the wins have climbed from there, 9-3, 11-2, 13-2 a state title last year and now riding the crest of a 12-0 start in 2017.
Next up for the Saints is Pike County.
“They are real tough. They really come off the ball on both sides of the line of scrimmage and they have a great running back.” Coach Smith is big on “…taking it one day at a time, one practice at a time, one play at a time, and everyone responsible for doing their job.”
Sounds a little like New England Coach Bill Belichick’s mantra, and that’s okay. It is a pretty good game plan for success. This Cedar Grove football team is one talented juggernaut of a football team- blitzkrieging the opposition in their first dozen games of the year, and along with Rome, Benedictine, Macon County, and ELCA has a chance to win back-to-back state titles going from the “Road to the Dome” to the “Battle for the Benz.”