Week Three:Time to play ball

Friday, September 5, 2014
The Marshall County Tigers have a renewed spirit this season and have played inspired football the first two weeks of the 2014 campaign. Photo by Anthony S. Puca

Traditionally, the first two weeks of the prep football season schedule are filled with non-conference match-ups that are very important in building a team's confidence, configuring the strategies on both sides of the ball, and surviving with a minimal amount of injuries, while trying to get out of those games with at least a .500 record.

The third week of gridiron action marks the beginning of the "real" season where district play begins and for the three county squads, most of those goals have been achieved.

The Marshall County Tigers (1-1), who opened the season with consecutive home games, came close to being undefeated in their first two contests as they beat Shelbyville 40-26 before surrendering a third-quarter lead versus Independence in a 31-25 loss.

The Tigers can score points and have the most dynamic player in the county in all-purpose senior standout Chris Walker, who has put up some incredible numbers in the first two weeks.

Walker has amassed 463 all-purpose yards, rushing for 326 yards on 27 carries for a whopping 12.1 average per carry and four touchdowns, while catching five passes for 47 yards and a score.

On defense, Walker is just as explosive with two interceptions, one a 90-yard touchdown jaunt and Walker is tied with Antonio and Cale Shelton for the team lead in tackles with 19.

This week MCHS will make its first road trip of the season when they travel to Page, which is undefeated at 2-0, claiming a pair of home victories versus David Lipscomb (24-10) and Summit (33-7).

The game should come down to the wire as it has most of the past dozen years when the two squads have split the 12 match-ups right down the middle since 2002.

Look for first-year head coach Thomas Osteen's Tigers to make it three in a row over the Patriots as Walker has another big game in leading MCHS to a 41-28 win in Rudderville.

Senior running back Zach McClendon (6) fights for some tough yards at Cascade in last week's 35-21 win in Wartrace. Photo by chapelhillbill.com

For the Forrest Rockets (1-1), last week's 35-21 win at Cascade was huge, re-building the pre-season confidence in first-year head coach Matt Kriesky's squad that was knocked down in an opening-season loss at Lauderdale County.

Although Forrest has suffered a few significant injuries in their first two games, the Rockets have already shown they are a tough group and are built to pound the football, play solid defense, and make some big plays on special teams.

Senior Austin Harmon came up big last week in Wartrace, providing three touchdowns, including a 61-yard punt return to open the scoring.

After a tough night in Alabama on opening night, senior running back Zach McClendon followed his experienced offensive line to find his form in Wartrace, rushing for 142 yards on 20 carries, while scoring a touchdown.

On defense, the Rockets are strong and senior laden, led by linebacker Blake Leonard, who has 13 tackles in the first two games.

Harmon is next with 10 takedowns, while McClendon (one sack) and Anthony Kritz have nine tackles apiece.

This week's trip to Moore County marks the last of three road games to open the season for Forrest and it will be a tough battle versus the Raiders, who have opened the campaign at 2-0, outscoring Richland and Cornersville 75-26.

Forrest is just 2-7 versus Moore County since 2001, including a 23-0 shutout win last year in Chapel Hill.

Look for the Rockets to come away with a hard-fought 28-24 win in Lynchburg Friday night, making a victorious return trip for their preparation for their home opener next week in the Battle of the North and South versus Cornersville.

Cornersville tailback Chance Dyer (15) has rushed for over 200 yards in each of the Bulldogs' first two games this season. Tribune photo by Louis G. Scheuchenzuber

The Bulldogs will need a boost of confidence this week as they have started the season 0-2, losing a pair of home games to start the season, beginning with a close 28-18 loss to Huntland in Week Zero, followed by a 37-20 setback at the hands of Moore County last week in Frog Bottom.

This is the week to break out for the Bulldogs as they travel to a winless Richland squad, who has been thrashed 91-12 in their first two games versus Moore County and Fayetteville.

The Bulldogs have won four out of the last five match-ups versus the Raiders, including a 26-14 victory in Cornersville last year.

The Bulldogs will prevail, picking up their first win of the season as talented running back Chance Dyer leads the offense, while the gritty Bulldogs' defense holds down the Raiders in a 31-10 win.