The Cartersville Purple Hurricanes have won four state championships in their 110-year history. The Hiram Hornets have won just three playoff games in their 24-year history. If the outcome of tonight’s game were based on history the Hornets wouldn’t stand a chance.

But then again GPB Sports Football Fridays in Georgia wouldn’t be at Weinman Stadium in Cartersville this evening if that were the case. Instead, tonight’s game is a huge Region 5-7A showdown with the No. 1 Canes (7-0, 2-0) hosting 9th-ranked Hiram (6-1, 1-1). Our coverage starts 7:30 p.m. on GPB-TV Georgia Public Broadcasting.


Up until last week’s 56-35 loss to No. 7 Calhoun, Hiram had won seven in a row dating back to last season and have gone 11-6 over their last 17 games. That’s a far cry from the two years prior when the Hornets struggled through the 2020-21 COVID years going 2-19. That 2021 season is when sixth-year Head Coach Pete Fominaya decided to take his lumps and play his young guys with the belief that they could be something special.

So far that then-sophomore, now-senior class has proven Fominaya’s vision for the program to be prophetic. From a recruiting standpoint (as you will see below) the Hornets have a much bigger college prospect roster than the Hurricanes and most everybody else in 5A.

That’s not to say that the Canes probably wouldn’t still be considered the favorite tonight. Cartersville is still Cartersville. One of the best-built programs in the state regardless of classification. The Hurricanes have won 68 of their last 69 region games dating back to 2011 with that one loss, a triple-overtime defeat at the hands of rival Calhoun last season snapping the Canes streak of 10 straight region titles. The game and broadcast for which our GPB Sports Team won an Emmy Award over the summer.

It should be an interesting match-up between a Hiram team that is the highest-scoring team in 5A at 44.3 PPG and a Cartersville team that has the second-best scoring defense in 5A giving up just 9.1 PPG. But it’s the way this Hornets team has rolled-up it’s impressive offensive numbers that makes this most intriguing.

Hiram runs the Wing-T offense or at least what Coach Fominaya calls a hybrid Wing-T. Hybrid or not, when’s the last time you saw the Wing-T? Once a staple offense in high school football, it has fallen way behind the spread as the offense of choice. So much so it has become a difficult challenge for most teams to prepare for it in just three practice days.

But Purple Hurricanes Head Coach Conor Foster was the defensive coordinator for Coach Joey King’s Cartersville state championship teams before becoming the head coach himself and now his DC is former kindergarten buddy and later Canes teammate J.J. Chatmon. Reunited those two guys do a really good job. But the challenge tonight will be significant and will depend on some complimentary football from the offense. Specifically likely time-consuming drives and no turnovers.

Both teams have outstanding offensive lines full of college prospects. Both teams have tremendous kickers. Should be a lot of fun.

So, that’s the game story. Let’s take a look at the top prospects to watch.

Hiram Hornets

Walter Matthews, Hiram

Walter Matthews, Hiram

Credit: 247 Sports

Walter Matthews – 6-7, 245, Senior TE, 4.6 40 – Committed to Southern Cal over 37 other offers including Florida – Consensus 4-Star – Highest Ranking: ESPN No. 2 TE in the country – 247 Sports No. 13 prospect in Georgia 2024. Career Stats: 45-793 yards receiving - 17.6 avg - 10 TD. Nephew of former Vanderbilt All-American and Atlanta Falcon Allama Matthews. Coach Fominaya: “Never been around a player with so many tools. If he wants to, we’ll see him on Sundays.”

Chase Tyler – 6-3, 170, Senior WR – Committed to Duke over 26 other offers including Georgia Tech and Tennessee – Highest Ranking: Rivals 4-Star and No. 13 WR in the country 2024. Career Stats: 81-1,290 yards receiving - 12 TD. All-State Basketball player and might get opportunity with Blue Devils basketball team. Plays baseball and high jumps. Only player who starts both ways for the Hornets also lining up at CB and had opportunities on the defensive side of the ball with offers from Tennessee, Oklahoma, and Texas A&M. Coach Fominaya: “Takes pride in everything he competes in.”

Clinton Richard – 6-4, 290, Senior ILB – Committed to Wake Forest over 13 other offers including Ole Miss and North Carolina – Consensus 3-Star – Highest Ranking: Rivals No. 20 IOL in the country 2024. Will also play some DT and DE. Coach Fominaya: “Old school junkyard kid. If you had to go in a dark alley, he’s the guy you want to go with you.”

Jameson Riggs – 6-5, 290, Senior OL – Committed to Georgia Tech over 30 other offers including Clemson and Auburn – Consensus 3-Star - Highest Ranking: ESPN No. 23 IOL in the country 2024. Wants to be an aerospace engineer. Coach Fominaya: “I think he’s the best OL in the state. The anchor of our team.”

Josiah Pope – 6-3, 205, Junior LB – Offered by FAU and Austin Peay. Season Stats: 40 TT - 3 TFL - 3 QB sacks - 1 FR. Coach Fominaya: “Next big name coming out of Hiram.”

Oliver Castaneda – 5-9, 155, Senior K- Offered by Memphis. Georgia has shown interest – Highest Ranking: Kohl’s 5-Star Kicker. Season Stats: 10-12 FG with long of 47. 50 of 53 kickoffs have been touchbacks. Coach Fominaya; “Might be our greatest weapon. Ball sounds different when he kicks it.”

Cartersville Purple Hurricanes

Malachi Tolliver, Cartersville

Malachi Tolliver, Cartersville

Credit: 247 Sports

Malachi Tolliver – 6-6, 310, Senior OT – Committed to Georgia over 20 other offers including Auburn and Louisville – Highest Ranking: Consensus 3-Star OT. Coach Foster: “6-6 with incredible feet and great bend. I see him as 4-Star interior OL. Think he’ll play guard or center at Georgia.”

Jamauri Brice – 5-11, 180, Junior WR/CB – 22 offers including Vandy, Louisville, Cincinnati and Oregon. Career Stats: 69-1,122 yards receiving - 9 TD. Nephew of former Clemson Tigers star LB and Atlanta Falcon Vic Beasley. Coach Foster: “Been a warrior and already played a lot of snaps. We’ve got to get him some more touches. He’s been so selfless. Tremendous teammate blocks his tail off.”

Langston Hogg – 6-2, 250, Sophomore OL – Six offers including Vandy and Oregon. Coach Foster: “Just a pup but nasty football player. Tad undersized and will play inside the next level.”

Luke Surrett – 6-4, 305, Senior OL – Committed to Richmond over seven other offers including East Carolina.

Khristian Lando – 6-1, 195, Senior RB/LB – Five offers including Georgia State, Coastal Carolina, and Charlotte. Career rushing stats: 172-1,072 yards - 20 TD.

Connor Brasfield – 6-2, 220, Senior LB/TE – Offered by Sewanee. Season Stats: Team-leading 55 TT - 4 QBS - 12 TFL - 2 FF - 1 FR - 1 INT. Coach Foster: “Throwback player. What our program is all about.”

Richard Houston – 5-10, 195, Senior LB/RB – Offered by Sewanee. Season Stats: 43-271 yards rushing - 6.3 avg - 2 TD. Defense: 24 TT – 3 TFL – 1 SAF

Cole Crawford – 6-3, 205, Freshman LB/TE – Season Stats: 17 TT, 6 TFL. 4-54 yards receiving. Son of former Houston County Head Coach Ryan Crawford who is now running Cartersville’s eighth-grade program. Considered one of the top baseball catchers in the country in the Class of 2027. Coach Foster: “He’ll be one of the top college football prospects in the country by the time he’s a senior. Can be a lot like Brock Bowers for us.”

Ryan Johnson – 6-3, 170, Senior Kicker/Punter – Season Stats: 40.8 punting average is No. 3 in 5A. 30 of 33 Kickoffs have been touchbacks. Committed to Georgia baseball as RHP with 91 MPH fastball. Coach Foster: “Think he can kick at the next level.”

Andrew Purdy – 6-2, 195, Junior QB – Back-up to sophomore starter Nate Russell. Committed to Alabama baseball. Rated the No. 6 shortstop in Georgia in the Class of 2025 and the 15th overall player.

So, join Wayne Gandy, Jon Nelson, Hannah Goodin, and me for our Emmy Award-winning Football Fridays in Georgia Game of the Week as the Cartersville Purple Hurricanes host the Hiram Hornets starting at 7:30 p.m. Remember at halftime Hannah will highlight this week’s Make That Kid an Offer nominees.

You can watch Football Fridays in Georgia in so many ways. You have traditional TV (GPB), online at, GPB Sports app, Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, and Twitch.

Now if somehow, you miss it live or just want to watch it again, don’t worry, we replay the entire Football Fridays in Georgia Game of the Week at 11:30 p.m. or you can watch it on demand anytime at 

Enjoy your Football Friday in Georgia!