Purple Hurricane Recap


Thomas Smith and Ryan McCrary

After the Cartersville Purple Hurricane’s bitter defeat by private school Blessed Trinity (14-0) in the GHSA 4A State Championship on December 12, we at the Chipper wanted to look back over the season at everything the Canes accomplished this 2018 season.

Going into the season, there were many questions about how junior quarterback Tee Webb would handle replacing now-Clemson star, Trevor Lawrence. Webb proved to be up for the task, leading the Hurricanes to a 14-0 record and an appearance in the State Championship Game. The Canes proved a force to be reckoned with, averaging 40 points per game offensively, and only giving up 6 points per game, and achieving 4 shutouts.

The Canes started their season at home against Allatoona (8-4). The Canes won the contest 35-0. Senior running back Marcus Gary led the way, totaling 239 all-purpose yards and 2 total touchdowns. The defense played phenomenally as well, with an interception returned for a touchdown by junior safety Marko Dudley, a recovered fumble. Cartersville held Allatoona to only 196 yards, not to mention zero points. Tee Webb answered the question of whether he was ready for this challenge. He very much was, throwing the ball for 150 yards and 2 touchdowns.

The next two games proved to be Webb’s coming out party. The junior QB accounted for 631 total yards and scored 12 total touchdowns in a 55-3 blowout of  Luella (3-7) and a 70-0 route of McNair (3-7). Marcus Gary helped as well with 137 all purpose yards and 5 total touchdowns over the two game stretch. The Cartersville defense continued to impress, holding Luella to 3 points and shutting out McNair.

The following game against Cherokee (5-6) turned out to be the Canes’ toughest home game of the season. Cartersville won 28-10, but struggled offensively the entire game. Webb went 15/37 for 127 yards and one interception. Running back Marcus Gary and the Cartersville D bailed the offense out of this one. Senior linebacker Sunni Moorehead finished the game with a touchdown off a blocked punt and an interception returned to the Cherokee 2-yard line. Junior cornerback Marquail Coaxum had an interception as well. Gary rushed for 121 yards on 25 carries and led the team with 5 receptions for 28 yards. Most importantly, Gary had 3 rushing touchdowns to lead the Canes’ to the victory.

The Canes hit the road and traveled to Cedartown (5-6) for their next game. In a hotly-contested game, Cartersville came home victorious with a close 21-20 win. Webb struggled through the air, but thrived in the run game. He finished 12/30 for 106 yards and an interception, but with 60 yards and a touchdown on the ground. The Canes finished their first drive of the game off with a 3-yard Harrison Allen rushing touchdown, but Cedartown struck back quickly with a 21-yard rushing touchdown. Webb then scrambled for a 21-yard rushing touchdown of his own, making it a 14-7 game at the end of the first quarter. Midway through the second quarter, Cedartown scored on a 57-yard rushing touchdown, but a missed PAT ended up being the difference-maker. Webb threw a costly interception in the third quarter that Cedartown took back 90 yards for a touchdown. Sophomore running back Quante Jennings Jr. proved to be the hero of the game. Late in the fourth quarter, the Canes marched down the field with Jennings, and the sophomore scored on a 2-yard rushing touchdown. Cartersville escaped with a victory.

The Purple Hurricanes blew out their next two opponents at home. They defeated Central Carroll (2-8) 45-10 then beat LaGrange (2-8) 45-7. Against Central Carroll, Quante Jennings Jr. continued his impressive performance from the previous week with 3 touchdowns on only 4 carries. Senior wideout Dadrian Dennis had a big game as well with 5 receptions for 122 yards and a touchdown. Webb had a stellar performance against LaGrange, throwing for 339 yards and 5 touchdowns. He spread the wealth to 10 different players that game.

Cartersville had their lowest scoring game of the season on the road against Sandy Creek (7-4). The Canes won a defensive game 7-0. Both defenses played well, but the C’ville offense really hurt themselves. Webb threw 2 interceptions and the offense had a fumble as well. The Cartersville defense played exceptionally well and bailed the team out with a recovered fumble, a turnover on downs, and two interceptions. One of those interceptions, by sophomore Amarai Orr, turned out to seal the game. After a Marcus Gary 2-yard rushing touchdown, Orr made the interception and returned it 42 yards.

Cartersville won the last two games of the regular season handily with a 51-0 blowout of Chapel Hill (7-4) and a 43-10 win over Troup County (12-2). Cartersville ended their road game struggles with a sound win over Chapel Hill. Webb threw for 238 yards and 3 touchdowns with sophomore Devonte Ross having 4 catches for 90 yards and 2 touchdowns. The running game helped out as well, with the Canes having 144 yards and 3 touchdowns. With a region championship on the line, Cartersville returned home to defeat Troup County. Marcus Gary led the way with 144 rushing yards and 2 touchdowns with Webb throwing for 187 yards and accounting for 3 touchdowns. The Canes started out hot with a 77-yard rushing touchdown by Gary on the first play from scrimmage. Cartersville never looked back and throttled Troup to advance to the playoffs with a region title and an undefeated regular season record.

The Canes played their first game of the playoffs at home against Stephens County (5-6), winning 34-7. Gary had an extraordinary rushing game, with 164 yards and 2 touchdowns. Webb shined as well with 160 passing yards and 3 passing touchdowns.

Cartersville played phenomenally in the second round of the playoffs against Ridgeland (8-4). In a game all about Tennessee commit tight end Jackson Lowe, the Canes defeated Ridgeland 41-7. Lowe coralled 6 receptions for 78 yards and 3 touchdowns. Gary added to the big night with 156 rushing yards and a touchdown. The defense played some of their best ball of the season with 5 total turnovers. Devonte Ross recovered a fumble and Marko Dudley, Marquail Coaxum, Sunni Moorehead, and Evan Slocum all had an interception, with Moorehead’s being returned for a touchdown.

On Black Friday, the Canes had to travel to Baldwin (7-6), winning 42-13 in a rainy mud-fest. Gary had his biggest night of the year with 30 carries for 193 yards and 3 touchdowns. Webb only threw the ball 7 times, but hit senior wideout Trendon Horton for a 62-yard touchdown on one of those attempts. The Cartersville D played lights out with 4 turnovers, one being an interception returned for a touchdown by Marquail Coaxum. The Canes came home from the rain with a victory.

With a state championship appearance in their hands, the Purple Hurricanes had to beat a hot Marist (11-3) to advance. They did just that. The Canes struggled offensively all night, but Devonte Ross came in clutch for them on offense and defense. Ross finished the game with multiple clutch deflections and 4 catches for 127 yards and 2 touchdowns. His last touchdown, a 38-yarder, proved to be the game winner as the Canes won 17-14. Webb struggled with 4 turnovers, but played well when it mattered to take the Hurricanes to their 3rd state championship in 4 years.

Webb proved that he has what it takes to step in for the incredible Lawrence. He had 2,726 passing yards and 39 total touchdowns to only 10 interceptions. Marcus Gary proved to be a great addition to the offense with 1,733 total yards and 21 total touchdowns. Cartersville found its new number one receiver and an incredible defensive back in sophomore Devonte Ross, who ended his season as the team leader in receiving yards with 521 yards and in receiving touchdowns with 8.

The Canes suffered a tough loss to the private Blessed Trinity at Mercedes-Benz stadium, but the future looks bright with so much young, returning talent.