ROSWELL, Ga. — It would be easy to dismiss Roswell’s season after their 42-21 loss to Walton Friday night. After all, Georgia high school football fans haven’t been used to seeing these kinds of performances from Roswell as of late.
The Hornets have five losses in seven games — prior to this season, the Hornets had lost five games in 42 matchups, dating back to their 2014 opener.
Colquitt County shut out Roswell, 28-0, Sept. 8 — The Hornets’ first game without scoring since a 28-0 loss to North Cobb in 1998.
A regular season loss—Roswell’s first since Halloween of 2014.
A defense allowing 31 points per game — The Hornets haven’t allowed that average since 2011 when they went 0-10.
So it may be easy to say that the magic of the John Ford era is gone, Ford being replaced by Matt Kemper this season. And it may be argued that the Hornets’ talent pool, which has sent over a dozen players to D-1 schools the past two years, is suddenly dry. And a point could be made that Roswell’s glory years are behind them for now, and the highs and lows of high school football have the Hornets currently in a rut.
But in doing so, one could also argue that would be callous.
Consider that entering this season, Roswell had just four players on its roster that had started a varsity football game. Consider that 10 new coaches were manning the sidelines. And consider that Roswell has arguably the toughest schedule in the state.
Four of Roswell’s losses have come from teams ranked inside the top-six in the state in Class 7A of the Georgia Sportswriters Association. And those rankings were before No. 3-ranked Archer beat defending state champs and top-ranked Grayson and before No. 5 South Forsyth downed Milton on Friday.
All seven of Roswell’s opponents are in Class 7A, and combined, they have a 43-8 record.
It’s not to say Roswell’s season has been flawless, just mired with tough losses. Head coach Matt Kemper said his offensive isn’t explosive enough. They have struggled to avoid tackles for loss. Roswell’s defense needs to play with more physicality and better execution. Everyone has to limit mistakes.
Though his team lacks experience, they have gained about as much as a team can in seven games by playing such high-caliber opponents.
“We’ve been in close games, three in overtime, and played some of the best teams you’ll see,” Kemper said. “We certainly hope that experience can help us down the stretch.”
One group that has led that charge is the offensive line, comprised completely of new starters.
“They are a unit that has really made some strides,” Kemper said. “Coach Scott Hamilton has done a heck of job. They are definitely one of the bright spots [this year].”
With three games remaining, the Hornets are still in contention for a playoff spot as the top four of Region 4-AAAAAAA’s teams earn a berth. Four teams share Roswell’s record of 1-1 in region play.
“We’re very fortunate that everything is right there, laid out in front of us,” Kemper said. “We win three games, we can still host [in the first round of the playoffs]. We know what we have to accomplish, we just have to play error free football.”
Roswell will host Etowah (3-4, 1-1) next Friday.