50-in-50: Cartersville

With a wealth of returning talent, particularly on offense, the Cartersville football team should be in a position to reload this fall. A lot of their success for 2013, however, may be determined by the team’s attitude.

“The biggest thing we’ve got to do is replace our senior leadership,” said coach Frank Barden, who will be starting his 19th season with the Purple Hurricanes this fall. “That was a strong character class. There’s no question our team’s success last year was all about chemistry.”

That chemistry was reflected in the results. Cartersville went 13-1 before losing to Buford in the Class AA semifinals.

Much of that Region 5-AAA championship team will be returning this fall. The Purple Hurricanes have many offensive weapons back from last year’s team that averaged 42.2 points during the regular season.

The offense begins with quarterback Brooks Barden, a 6-foor-3, 214-pound senior who was a first-team all-state selection last year. Barden threw for 2,436 yards and 36 touchdowns last season and didn’t throw an interception until the quarterfinal. He also ran for 430 yards and five touchdowns.

Barden was the Associated Press Class AA Player of the Year and has gotten a bag full of inquiries from colleges. “He’s going through the process,” coach Barden said. “He’s developed into a solid leader.”

Cartersville will surround Barden with plenty of talent. Brandon Long (597 yards, 11 TDs) and Kalin Heath (517 yards, 11 TDs) return at running back, with T.L. Ford (30 catches, 10 TDs) and Gordon Gray(four TDs) both back at wide receiver.

Another key returner will be rising sophomore Tiamon Pennyman, who ran for 131 yards and two TDs in only 10 carries before breaking his femur. Barden said Pennyman’s rehab has progressed well and that he only needs to sustain a few pops to get back in the groove.

The Canes are looking for help on the offensive line, where they graduated three starters.

The defense will be solid at linebacker and the secondary, but needs help replacing a pair of defensive linemen.

Top defensive players include defensive back Mark Quattlebaum and lineman Alex Barnes. Pennymon will also play linebacker this year; he only played offense as a freshman.

Cartersville will need to replace stellar kicker Preston Slemp, who signed with Eastern Kentucky.

The Canes will be favored to win the region again, with competition from Ringgold, Adairsville and Gordon Central. But Barden isn’t worrying about that right now.

“We’re trying to focus on ourself,” he said. “If you get beat, most of the time you beat yourself. That’s chemistry. That’s why developing that chemistry is going to be huge for us.”

Cartersville Purple Hurricanes

2012 record: 13-1, 7-0 in Region 5-AAA, lost in semifinals to Buford

Starters returning: 6 offense, 6 defense

Key players returning: QB Brooks Barden, RB Tiamon Pennymon, DB Mark Quattlebaum.

Spring practice dates: May 1-16.

Schedule: Aug. 30 at Darlington, Sept. 6 Cass, Sept. 13 at Rockmart, Sept. 20 North Murray, Sept. 27 Coahulla Creek, Oct. 4 at Lakeview-Fort Oglethorpe, Oct. 18 at Gordon Central, Oct. 25 at Adairsville, Nov. 1 Sonoraville, Nov. 8 Ringgold

Outlook: The Purple Hurricanes are loaded with offensive weapons and will be the favorite again in Region 5-AAA. In addition to all-state QB Brooks Barden, Cartersville has a ton of players back at the skill positions. Help in needed on the offensive and defensive line, where graduation took a toll, but pencil this team in as a contender for a state championship.

17 comments Add your comment


May 1st, 2013
2:34 pm

“The Canes will be favored to win the region again, with competition from Ringgold, Adairsville and Gordon Central. But Barden isn’t worrying about that right now.”

Barden isn’t worried about that he is still out on the recruiting trail scooping up all the kids in the area. His visa bill must be huge taking all those kids and their families out for dinner presenting them with their jerseys and telling them how grand of a place Cartersville is. I just wonder if the GHSA will ever do anything about these city schools. Everybody wants to talk about the private schools but the city schools are the ones that get away with it all. Best of luck Cartersville enjoy that region championship, its the best that money can buy.

Cville Canes Fan

May 1st, 2013
2:55 pm

@ Rob Not Fair. Good programs attract players and families that want to be part of a great tradition; people just start complaining when programs win, but don’t concern themselves with teams are not successful…….. GO CANES


May 2nd, 2013
6:42 am

I would be surprised if Cartersville isn’t a late round playoff contender. Solid team, well coached, and one of the best QBs we played against all year. Hopefully, this year you’ll get to make the trip to Buford, because Buford be a second seed in 2013. Hearing “Rock you like a Hurricane” gets old after awhile too.


May 2nd, 2013
7:45 am

Buford will be a 2 seed in 2013? Hard to get home-field that way. It would be great for the Hurricanes to meet the Wolves away or home and play a great game. I saw how Lyle Allen developed from Junior to Senior so I have confidence you will see a much more crisp Barden this year. But can we get him a clean snap consistent this year? I have heard about Pennymon and have read his results for years and he has produced for a long time. Will he be the gamechanger and focus of the defence that can really open this offence up for great things? Seeing the Hurricanes playing the Wolves on the Internet last year I was impressed with our play just lost to a better team. I should say I watched us against Blessed Trinity and Thomson to on the Internet and saw us play better every week peaking with Buford even though we lost that one. Don’t overlook this undefeated Middle School Champ upcoming 9th grade class either I believe there is another game-changer coming in with more solid depth being added. GO MIGHTY HURRICANES!!!!!!!


May 2nd, 2013
9:24 am

@Cville Canes Fan: I do agree that good programs do attract players and families but it still doesn’t mean that he isn’t cheating. No doubt they are a talented team with some great young talent but i’m sorry Barden is shady and kids aren’t the most intelligent when it comes to keeping a secret. I’m sure Cartersville isn’t the only team doing it either. I just wish the GHSA would do a better job with all the city schools. An equal playing field would be nice. Best of luck and keep justifying all you want but it is happening.

Sandy Creek

May 2nd, 2013
1:19 pm

Rob, do you have specific examples or knowledge of wrongdoing by Coach Barden? If so, you should disclose that to GHSA and keep your mouth shut on here about that. If not, you should keep your mouth shut on here about things you think are happening or that you have heard through the grapevine. I just think it is really unfair to say that a coach is cheating if you do not know it for a fact. I do agree with you on a basic premise though, which is that every city school has a huge advantage over non-city schools. But again, that is much different than calling someone a cheater.


May 2nd, 2013
4:44 pm

Why do you say city schools have advantages? I believe it has been proven that nearly every school district in Georgia has open enrollment policy that allows for kids to attend that district even from out-of-the county. The advantage of say a Cartersville is the tradition it has of being the cream of the crop of Bartow Co. and now the Hurricanes are reaping the rewards of years of having the right system in place now that Bartow has ballooned to 100,000 plus. Still only a handful of schools around Georgia have policy for no out of district students allowed. If Barden is cheating lets get it out if you got it to give out.


May 2nd, 2013
6:01 pm

FootballTopFan(c) would like to congratulate the Cartersville Purple Hurricanes and Coach Frank Barden on a great season in 2012 !!!

The state runner-up in the Class AAA championship game will have another strong team.

Cartersville is the home of former Governor Joe Frank Harris and Chief Justice Robert Benham.

The Purple Hurricanes have a solid football program under Coach Barden who is in his 19th season.

Football Top Fan loves high school football.


May 2nd, 2013
8:11 pm

5aaa is a very weak athletic conference


May 3rd, 2013
7:02 am

Very weak Trey? Have you done any real research. The Georgia Directors Cup which awards points based on state playoff performance has 3 5-AAA teams in the top 20 with Cartersville leading the way as the 4th ranked program in AAA. While not 6-AAA 5-AAA is making its case that weak it is not as it has the ingredients of a decent league. North Murray is right outside the top 20 and in the top 25. The real problem is no really strong 2 to compliment the Canes in most sports. This region has something more like 2 #3 seeds in most sports if ya get what I am saying.


May 3rd, 2013
7:30 am

As for advantages it is often believed that schools such as Calhoun, Cartersville, Buford, Gainesville, has the best kids on their teams for that county or area. I can say from following Bartow sports I wish Cartersville had the best of the county in more sports. Have you noticed how many county championships Woodland has won in the last 10 years? Sure the Canes lock down the big ones most times but usually close games now a days between county rivals. In Bartow I believe kids have a lot of pride about where they start school and end school. Switching schools in between the Bartow lines is not happening at an alarming rate. Cartersville just needs to continue to offer a great education and atmosphere along with challenging its athletes and putting them in a position to become the best they can be and they will keep rolling.


May 3rd, 2013
7:33 am

I keep meaning to ask Top Fan about AAA state runner-up. You were talking about St. Pius right?

Sandy Creek

May 3rd, 2013
9:26 am

@Cvilleryder, are you really going to sit here and argue that city schools have no advantage over other schools? There is a reason why Calhoun, Cartersville, Carrollton, Buford, and Gainesville have “tradition” as you call it. They all have something in common. I would argue that the biggest two advantages a city school has is its tax base and the fact that it looks out for no other entity other than itself. Let me expound on both of these quickly. As far as the tax base goes, being a city school almost guarantees that facilities will be very very good to say the least because of revenue generated through the tax system. Secondly, and this is the most important in my view, which is a city school only has to look out for itself and no one else. You said yourself that many are attracted to tradition and while that is true, there is something below the surface at work that makes that possible. For non-city schools, district lines are often redrawn and a very accomplished school can quickly have their talent base drained, never to return. Or a new school can open that adversely impacts a very strong school by taking really good student athletes from them. Why does this happen? Simple. It is best for the county system. So, tradition quickly vanishes. Counter that with a city school. It is the only school. Every decision is based on one simple principle: Is _________ best for our city system? There is one elementary, one middle, and one high school. This process over the course of time makes a tremendous difference. And this, in my view, is the root of tradition. I do want to be clear though. I am not saying that city schools are doing anything wrong or are not playing by the rules. I just think it is naive to act as if there is no difference.

The part about the Bartow ballooning to 100k people clearly illustrates part of my point. You did not say that Bartow schools benefit from that population boom, but rather Cartersville City Schools for having the right system in place. Sounds an awful lot like what Buford has going on in Gwinnett/Hall with the population booms that have taken place in those two counties the last 20 years or so.

And by the way, you are not the only one here that knows about Bartow County. I graduated from a school in Bartow.


May 3rd, 2013
11:06 am

Woodland, Cass, Adairsville, and Excel have all seen a rise in their athletic programs in recent years. What you say doesn’t hold water on a couple of levels. One what do you think happened when Woodland opened. Cartersville was hurt. Woodland gave kids a choice other than Cass and Cartersville which for kids that could make the choice was a no-brainer. One another level, although far less money to have to spend their is far less tax revenue in Cartersville as compared to the county. Until 2002 Cartersville did not have great facilities, hell they were flat out old. The school got a makeover along with the stadium I mean come on after 2 titles won at Weinman I think a facelift was earned. The baseball facility is all out of pocket from Boosters and Community support. Woodland has great facilities, Cass just got a great new school, and Adairsville has the only school pool in the county. Since you are from Bartow you should be thankful for Cartersville keeping and pushing Bartow onto the statewide sportscene. Time for the county to pull their weight no excuses.

Cville Canes Fan

May 3rd, 2013
2:30 pm


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Sandy Creek

May 7th, 2013
9:43 am

How does the opening of Woodland high school over a decade have to do with this? Besides, Woodland is a county school, operated by the Bartow BoE, not the Cartersville City BoE. Therefore, if a kid wants to go there (or Cass or Adairsville) but lives inside the city limits of Cartersville, they must receive special permission. And I could understand why a kid would rather go to Woodland over Cass, but what does that have to do with Cartersville?

On the tax revenue issue, you are half right. Yes, the county collects more tax revenue than the city because it is much larger, but it is also splitting the revenue amongst the county schools (elementary, middle and high) which far outnumber the number of Cartersville City schools. In addition to that, there are also a couple other things at work. Property taxes fund schools on the local level. Want to take a guess where the highest property values are in Bartow? You guessed it, Cartersville. That also means more revenue. Additionally, Cartersville also has tons more businesses which also pay property taxes. While there are businesses in other areas of the county, the city of Cartersville likely has five businesses for every one elsewhere in the county. Last, like every city, population is much more dense, meaning there is not “wasted space” where farms or undeveloped land sit. I call it “wasted space” because undeveloped land generates far less tax revenue. Bartow County however has tons of “wasted space” because it is not densely populated.

In terms of the booster club paying for a new baseball complex, that goes back to my first post here. Changing district lines on the county level make it difficult to maintain a high level of tradition because a portion of the county that used to be Cass is now Woodland, or what used to be Adairsville is now Cass. That erodes any sense of tradition. Cartersville does not face that problem which makes it possible for booster clubs to do what you mentioned.

Just to be clear, I have heard Coach Barden speak several times at some events, and I think he is a great man and great coach. I think Cartersville High is a great school and I am not accusing anyone associated with the school or athletic programs of wrongdoing. But I am stating that being a city school, they have advantages that other schools in Bartow and around the state do not have. Is it illegal? No, they are playing by the rules GHSA has set up, but that does not change the advantages they have.