ENTERING THE 2023 SEASON, ADAIRSVILLE’S FOOTBALL TEAM SEEMS TO BE IN SOLID SHAPE, and the Tigers are aiming to see if they can break through this season and get past the second round of the state playoffs, a hurdle that has hindered them the past several seasons.
“Our aspirations are to go further in the playoffs and to get past the second round. We’ve been in the second round several times but only been in the third round once since I’ve been here,” Adairsville coach John Cudd says. “We’ve got a lot of guys who have been on the staff here
a long time, and we would like to get over that hump and get past the third round.”
Last season, Adairsville won the region title and 10 games before falling to eventual state semifinalist Oconee County in the second round of the Class 3A State Playoffs.
This year, The Tigers return a lot of talent from last year’s team.
“We have 17 or 18 kids that have started a high school football game coming back for us. We probably played more kids last year than we’ve ever played before,” Cudd says. “When you have those back-to-back classes of 25 seniors and juniors, you are able to build some depth.”
Two big components coming back for Adairsville are three-year starting quarterback Jonathan Gough, who threw for more than 1,000 yards and rushed for almost 500 last year. He’s joined in the backfield by running back Ethan Blome, who tallied more than 1,500 yards in 2022 even though he had to miss a few games due to injuries.
“Bobby Campbell is also a big name for us. He’s started every game since he was a freshman, and he’s the anchor of our offensive line. He’s a great player and exactly what you want in a player and a leader,” Cudd says.
Cudd also mentioned Jett Johnson and Andrew Foster at defensive line as players who started every game last season and have high motors and great work ethic as well.
“Another one is Jamarian Pullman. He was an all-region cornerback last year, and he has really taken his game to another level, He is going to be a contributor for us on both sides of the ball this season,” Cudd says.
Along with the returners, Cudd mentions a couple of other players for fans and opponents to watch out for in 2023.
“Tre Winters is coming back. He’s kind of a new name. He started on defense last year. He’s going to play a lot of offense. He’s a big, tall basketball kid that can go get the football. He has had a really good summer for us,” Cudd says. “We expect big things out of Tamarius Wilkey and Xavious Nalls. They played a lot of football last year but didn’t get the recognition that some of the others did.”
Having a lot of players coming back to this year’s team is huge for the Tigers, but so is keeping the coaching staff together.
“We’ve got a lot of guys on this staff that have been together for a long time. After Coach Bishop retired, we still have six or seven guys on staff that have been together for about 12 years. That’s kind of unheard of in this day and age,” Cudd says. “We’re a tight-knit group. We’re very fortunate that we have hired some guys that have played for us and hired some young guys we feel good about. It’s a blessing to be a part of this where you can put roots down and be with a great group.”
When asked about what it’s going to take for this squad to possibly repeat as region champs and make a deep run into the playoffs, Cudd doesn’t hesitate.
“The first thing is this group needs to come together as a team. I think the way that everything is set up, we are becoming more individualistic. Everybody is out doing their own thing,” Cudd says. “We have to find a way to get back together and be a team. I believe the sky is the limit for these guys. We have a ton of talent, but talent can only take you so far. We need to play together and reach our potential together. If we can do that, we will be right where we want to be.”