Updated: Sep 10
(Photo by Courtney Couey/Ringgold Tiger Shots)
What’s so special about the Ringgold Tigers this season?? That‘s a great question that has a million correct answers, but that's not quite the main focus of today's article. Instead, I’d like to direct your attention to a select group of 17 seniors. With that in mind, the real question you should be asking yourself is: What do these 17 seniors have in common? The answer is simple... All 17 of them are vying for their return to dominance, following them reaching the pinnacle of North Georgia middle school football nearly 4 years earlier [8th grade].
Now, you might be wondering why I'm trying to equate their middle school days to their senior year of high school and that's a fair question, but I'm doing so because it's a likely indicator of what's to come this season. If you'd like to know exactly how this 2021 football season might unfold for the Tigers, then the best way to do that is to take a look at the past. In other words, if we rewind the clock to four years ago, to the last time this group of guys were at the top of the food chain (8th grade and now 12th grade respectively), then we might expect to see a similar trend/performance transpire this season.
Having said that, let's leap through time and flashback to their 8th-grade season, where you can see a team demonstrating unparalleled dominance, particularly in the latter half of the season. In fact, this team went undefeated, outscoring opponents 354-48 and their first-string defense didn't allow a single point in their final four regular-season games. Their last game of the season that year was against the Generals of Heritage in the championship match-up. These two teams met earlier in the year with the first meeting ending in Ringgold's 38-8 victory. The second time around, the result was very much the same with Ringgold once again winning by a gaping 30 points 52-22. In the championship game alone the offense produced 512 yards, 472 of which were on the ground. Furthermore, 217 of those rushing yards belonged to running back Kori Dumas, who only had 12 carries the whole game. While the second biggest rusher was Kyle White, the quarterback who rushed for 145 yards on 18 carries.
"This is probably the most dominant team that's come through [Ringgold] in recent history . . . . We had four shutouts in a row, including the playoffs and excluding this game, our first team defense gave up just one touchdown all year long. If it's not the best team we've had, it's definitely one of the best."
-Head Coach Barett Blankenship in a 2017 interview
Ringgold then [2017-18] vs Ringgold now (Photo by Courtney Couey/Ringgold Tiger Shots)
Fast forward to 2021 and 17 players from that 2017 NGAC Championship team are now seniors. 14 of whom are currently starters, many of them playing both sides of the ball as well, demonstrating their versatility. In terms of starters, there's Brody Gann (Long Snapper), Logan Goldsmith (Offensive Tackle), Levi Gunn (Offensive Tackle), Cole Carlock (Linebacker), Kori Dumas (Running Back/Linebacker), Malachi Hill (Wide Reciever/Free Safety), Landon Eaker (Kicker), Jevon Coney (Wide Reciever/Cornerback), Kyle White (Slot Receiver/Safety), Jordan Wideman and Caden Dodson (Wide Reciever), Brandon Orman (Defensive End), Ashton Clark (Defensive Line) and last but not least Mason Parker (Quarterback). Additionally, the Tigers have three returning seniors in Kaiser Cross and Evan Hamilton (Defensive Line) and Ashton Meador (Wide Reciever/Linebacker) who at this point in time aren't starters, but you can expect to see them establish their presence on the field this year!
As mentioned previously, this particular group of seniors has a strong core of versatile players who have a large amount of playing experience together. During their time as a team, they have experienced an array of highs and lows that can be seen through the records of their past 4 seasons. Since their 8th grade season, their records have been: 8-0, 5-6, 0-10, 5-5, and ? - ?. As seen in their record, they've been through a lot of adversity together, and that, in particular, is the exact reason why if I were Ringgold's opponent this upcoming season, I'd undoubtedly be scared. This team is showing some flashes of brilliance very early on and once this team is in mid-season form, every team they compete against should be very afraid, very afraid indeed. Friday nights at 7:30 are going to be truly frightening hours for those who find themselves trapped on a football field with a team full of hungry Tigers, desperate to reclaim what they believe is theirs. . . the regional title.
Pictured: The 17 Seniors From The 2017 NGAC Championship Team
(Photos by Courtney Couey/Ringgold Tiger Shots)
The Glaring Similarities
The truth is in the numbers... or at least that's what they say. So far the numbers are looking to be headed in the right direction as the Tigers are already off to a booming 2-0 start on the season, outscoring their opponents 79-15. Here's where the truly frightening part comes in, this team is only getting started. Sure, their first two performances had their own fair share of imperfections with penalties, and the occasional turnovers, but on the contrary the number of things this team did well far outweighed the bad.
In spite of any errors they may make, for me, as well as many of the spectators in Ringgold, this group of guys, have always been exciting to watch. I've sat in the bleachers watching as these players have grown and developed and I've seen them play so many times that I can just imagine their signature plays over and over.
I can vividly picture RB Kori Dumas grabbing the ball from QB Mason Parker and swinging to the outside, where the WR Jevon Coney has set up a block downfield, allowing for a 20+ yard play. Or I can imagine Malachi Hill galloping 40 yards downfield making that diving catch. I can see Coleton Carlock and Kyle White wreaking havoc, chasing down the opposing QB. I can see the interceptions. I can see the fumbles. I can see the linemen setting up pass protection. I can even see where things might go wrong from time to time. I can see the pocket collapse. I can see Parker scramble. I can see him weave through defenders as he so typically does and I can see him go for 20, 30, 40... until finally, he reaches the endzone. The thing is, I honestly don't even have to imagine these players doing these things because I've seen them pull off explosive plays such as these time and time again.
But Wait... There's More!
I mentioned the 17 seniors who are currently vying for their return to dominance, but I failed to mention that the Tigers have added on even MORE weapons throughout the past four years. Outside of those seniors mentioned earlier, the Tigers have had new additions to the team throughout the past few years and even more recently with players such as Drelyn Morris and Donte Harris who transferred from Northwest Whitfield High School and Heritage High School respectively. And that's just the tip of the iceberg. If I had the time and space to write a profile for each of these amazing athletes, I most certainly would, but unfortunately writing about 23 seniors individually might be more than I can bite off with an already busy college schedule!
[Side-note: If there are any inaccuracies or pictures/names missing please let me know by leaving a comment and I'll update the article asap!]
The Six Additional Seniors Who Joined The Tigers Ranks In The Past Four Years
(Photos by Courtney Couey/Ringgold Tiger Shots)
The Survey Says...
One poll I conducted on Instagram asked users how many wins the Tigers will get this year. The options were as follows: <6, 6, 8, or 10+. Out of 110 votes, over 39% (43 people) voted that the Tigers would secure over 10 wins this season. 31 people (28.2%) of those polled believed that Ringgold would obtain a record with at least 8 wins, while 15 people (13.6%) of those polled believed that Ringgold would be able to eke out 6 wins on the year. This poll strongly presents evidence that nearly 80.9% of football fans in the greater Ringgold area believe that the Tigers will have a winning record this coming season.
Despite the vast majority of voters demonstrating their faith in the Tigers, there are still quite a few naysayers, many of whom may or may not be players or students from opposing teams. These naysayers claimed the 3rd highest result with 19.1% (21 people) voting that they believe the Tigers will fall at or below the .500 mark this season. Although at the moment many of these votes are made on pure speculation, in merely a few month's time, time will truly tell whether the Ringgold Tigers can "live up to the hype.”
I just shared some of my experiences with this Ringgold High School squad and their growth through the years. Did you play for the Tigers? What was it like for you? Are you a Ringgold fan? How will the Tigers fare this season? Tell us in the comments below! Feel free to share our article by hitting the share button and leaving a like!
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P.S. Happy Birthday to the best Mom ever! Thanks for all you do!!