What once seemed to be a promising rebound season for the Roswell Hornet football program after the abysmal no-win 2011 campaign came screeching to a halt Friday night after a region loss to the Wheeler Wildcats, 14-17.
In what could easily be considered one of the blandest first halves ever, which only produce an early Wheeler touchdown, Roswell and Wheeler engaged in a punting war for what seemed like the entirety of the first and second quarter. With the offense sputtering, the improving Roswell defense managed to hold the Wildcats out of the end zone until the dwindling seconds of the first half.
Down 0-14 at half time, Roswell rallied the troops and stormed back, as they have several times this season, to even the score at 14-14 with nine minutes remaining in the game. With a chance to win the game down by only three late in the fourth quarter after a mammoth 49-yard Wildcat field goal, the inconsistent Roswell offense stalled.
For the better part of two weeks, the Roswell offensive unit has looked utterly lost.
Led by senior quarterback Ryan Monty and senior running back Andrew Kwateng, the Roswell offense has only managed to string together 14 points in the last two games against Etowah and Wheeler. However, John Albert, senior wide receiver opposite Bennett Barton, has surged in the passing weeks. Albert has four touchdowns in the past three weeks; quickly becoming what seems like Ryan Monty’s favored target, especially in the end zone considering Albert’s quickness. Coming off of big offensive performances against Milton and Johns Creek, this new trend of offensive struggling is certainly confusing.
A very possible correlation between the Roswell offensive struggles could be the play of Kwateng. Kwateng, who started the season absolutely scolding hot with 884 yards in only four games, has considerably cooled in the past two games. In the past two games, Kwateng has only gained 216 yards on the ground, scoring only once. For the senior, who at one point was on track for 2,000 plus rushing yards, it comes as a bit of a surprise.
A more than real possibility is that the Hornets have already worn Kwateng out, riding him on offense for much of the first five games this season. In the past five games, Kwateng has handled 144 carries. Last season while getting limited play because of injury, Kwateng only recorded 79 rushes. During the 2010 season, Kwateng rushed the ball 114 times as a change of pace back. While Kwateng has been outstanding, there has to be some concern for the endurance and health of the running back. Can Kwateng endure a full season worth of workhorse carries? If the Hornets keep running Kwateng thirty times a game, we may find out the answer to that question sooner rather than later.
Roswell, now 1-5 and 0-3 in the 5-AAAAAA region, may already be in a must win scenario against Woodstock when they play the team in two weeks. Since defeating Centennial in the inaugural game of the season, Roswell has been outscored by a margin of 99-149 in the past five games alone. On average, the Roswell defense is giving up 29.8 points in that five game span, while the offense has only managed to average 19.8 points.
A central theme in the season so far has been the defenses play against opposing rushing attacks. Something that hindered Roswell all of last year has already had a huge impact in the 2012 season. Teams continue to run all over Roswell, possibly a result of the small physical size of the Roswell defense in comparison to other teams. In the past five games, Roswell has surrendered 14 rushing touchdowns. At this point, it would be suffice to say that the Hornets are struggling significantly in the running game.
While the Hornets still have four games to play, the season may already be in jeopardy. With Cherokee and Woodstock on the schedule, both rooted at the bottom of the region with Roswell, the Hornets have a chance to snap their current five game-losing streak. Unfortunately, Roswell has to play Walton and Lassiter to close the season. Walton trampled Roswell last year, winning 45-3 behind the effort of star-studded running back Tyren Jones. Lassiter, on the other hand, may pose the biggest, and certainly most talented challenge of the season for the Hornets. Currently 6-0, Lassiter is popularly considered the best team in the state of Georgia and is currently considered a top 25 team nationally, ranked at 20 on the Xcellent 25 National High School football rankings.
The last month of the season awaits Roswell upon return from their bye week on Oct. 12 when they play Woodstock, Oct. 19.