GHSA Football Week 8 Preview: Game Of The Week - Osborne vs Kennesaw Mountain
The Osborne Cardinals have been having one of best seasons the program has had in quite some time, now in year two with Coach Luqman Salam as head coach. At 5-0, the Cardinals have won more games this season than they did in the previous six seasons combined and on Friday, will look to add another win when they open up their region play against the Kennesaw Mountain Mustangs, also coming into the match up at 5-0. As for the Cardinals and how they have been able to turn the corner under Coach Salam, “maturation” is just one of the factors the tenured coach says has played a relevant role in how well the Cardinals have been playing.
“We played a lot of young players last year,” Salam said and in addition to his players having more experience, the Cardinals have also seen an increase in the amount of players, in comparison to years past. “It gives us the ability to function a little bit better and that helps with the teaching aspect and all those different things,” Salam said. And as the Osborne program has grown from a player standpoint, this has allowed Salam to add to his coaching staff as well, including bringing in former Hillgrove and Campbell head coach, Phil Ironside. “He brings a wealth of knowledge in his ability as a play caller and offensive coordinator,” Salam said of Ironside, who Salam served under as an offensive assistant and defensive coordinator during the two’s time at Hillgrove.
And as Salam and his staff continue to change and build a new culture within the Cardinals’ program, he says that they have also seen a “tremendous” development of leadership among players. “Our players are now starting to understand what leadership is, doing something in order to be remembered a particular type of way,” Salam said. Conversations with the players about how they want to be remembered and the type of legacy they would like to leave behind are constant among the Cardinals and Salam and his staff are now seeing the benefits of those talks payoff on the field. And as Osborne prepares to take on Kennesaw Mountain, Salam says this week they have reminded their players to “continue to be who we are,” later adding “stay in our process, stay in our focus of what our team objectives are”.
A region rivalry will be reborn on Friday when the Pebblebrook Falcons host the Westlake Lions as the two teams begin region play. After dropping their season opener, the Falcons looked to be back on track winning their next two, but would then drop two straight before picking up a 31-14 win over Harrison heading into their bye week. On the other side of the field, Westlake would go 1-2 in their first three games but would then run off three straight wins including a 23-20 win over the defending Georgia High School Association Class 7A state champs, Collins Hill heading into their bye week.
A region battle and border battle will take place Friday when the Cambridge Bears and Centennial Knights meet up on the turf. Both teams are two games into region play with the Bears sitting at 2-0 in the standings and the Knights at 1-1. Cambridge has one the last three meetings between the two with Centennial last knocking off the Bears during the 2018 season. At 4-2 overall, momentum would appear to be in favor of Cambridge as they have won their last two, while the Knights at 2-4 look to win back to back games for the first time this season.
A new head coach and a new culture being ushered in has lead the Mundy’s Mill Tigers to their best start through six games since the 2018, in which they got off to a 4-2 start. With new head coach, Earthwind Moreland leading the way, the Tigers are sitting at 5-1 overall and 3-1 in their region having five in a row after dropping their season opener. While Friday’s game will be a non-region matchup for Mundy’s Mill, it will be a big test for the Tigers as they will face the 2021 GHSA 3A state championship runner ups, the Carver-Atlanta Panthers. At 4-1, the Panthers got off to s three straight win start before hitting a bump in the road by way of the Buford Wolves, the defending GHSA 6A state champs. Carver would bounce back last week with an 8-6 win over a tough Peach County team.
Miller Grove-Holy Innocents
It has been a bit of an up and down season for both the Miller Grove Wolverines (3-3) and the Holy Innocents Golden Bears (3-3), however the two teams found themselves on the opposite ends of the spectrum as they opened up region play last week. After dropping their previous two games, Miller Grove bounced back last week with a 26-21 win over Southwest Dekalb to kickoff region play. Meanwhile, after a 22-13 win over the Douglass Astros, the Golden Bears were edged out last week as they opened region play with a 15-14 loss to the Westminster Wildcats. The Golden Bears are playing up three classifications this season as they were bumped up from 1A Private to 4A.