Friday football primer
It should be a very exciting Week 6 as all three county schools have huge contests looming tonight with both Marshall County High School and Forrest looking to stay undefeated, while the Cornersville Bulldogs are looking for a signature win that would move the program forward and put them back on track to a return to the playoff picture.
The high flying Tigers (5-0, 2-0) are coming off a huge win at home over Giles County and face their second trip to Nashville this season and third of four matchups with a Metro-Nashville football program as they prepare for a battle at Stratford (5-0, 2-0).
"It was a big win for our program for various reasons, Giles of course being or biggest rival is reason enough," MCHS coach Thomas Osteen said. "But the win is most important because it puts us at 2-0 in the region and keeps us in control of all the goals that we have set before us."
The Spartans, who just moved into the Class 3A Associated Press Top 10 poll this week at number 10 have posted three shutouts so far this season and have allowed just 26 points in five games, while scoring 204 points which is third best in their classification.
"Playing in these type games helps us tremendously," Osteen said. The only way you can rapidly improve your football team is to play good opponents. Stratford will stress our football team in all phases of the game and show us what areas we need most to work on."
The third-ranked Tigers have put up 223 points and also have a stingy defense, allowing 46 points to five opponents.
"I would argue that our defensive coaching staff is as good as anybody's in the state," Osteen stated. "Coach Cobb, coach (Ron) Shirey, coach (Danny) Pickle and coach (Josh) Beddingfield all have a great working relationship. They go to great lengths in making sure that our players are ready for anything that our opponent might throw at us."
The emergence of quarterback Bryce Wallace has allowed MCHS not to miss a beat at that positon this season as the sophomore has stepped in nicely for 2015 Mr. Football finalist Ashton Posey.
Wallace has completed 79-out-of-100 passes for 1,116 yards and 13 touchdowns, while throwing just two interceptions.
"Bryce is playing well beyond his years and experience and the team has total confidence in him as the leader of our offensive unit," Osteen said. "He has provided us a great foundation for us to build our offense around with his consistent and efficient play."
Wallace has many weapons to get the ball too in a pair of all-state wide receivers Tre Crutcher (31 receptions, 490 yards, 4TD) and Jay Howard (27, 349, 6TD), plus Kamron Liggett's nine catches for 156 yards and a TD out of the backfield.
Marshall County's running game has produced 926 yards with Liggett (343 yards, 5TD) and Cain McWilliams (244, 7TD) leading the way.
The Tigers came out of the Giles County game healthy, had a great week of practice and are looking forward to the challenge according to Osteen, "We have had our best week of practice for the year this week. Our kids were not happy with our first half performance versus Giles and we feel like we have not gotten close this year to what our potential could be. In addition, our kids know Stratford is a great football team."
Look for the Tigers to make it four straight wins over the Spartans as they celebrate the bus ride home from Music City with an exciting 35-31 win and a 6-0 record in their pocket.
The number six ranked Forrest Rockets (5-0, 2-0) are also seeking to extend the season's perfection and would like no better than to do it versus longtime rival Cascade (2-3, 0-2) on Homecoming night at Chapel Hill.
"It doesn't take much to get our kids excited to play Cascade, it's an old rivalry that when it rolls around, you can throw the records out the window," Forrest coach Brent Johns said. "Cascade has our full attention, all you have to do is click on the Fayetteville City film to see what Cascade is capable of doing."
The Champions beat Fayetteville 30-23 two weeks ago, but suffered a 28-6 loss at Eagleville last week and have scored just 81 points and given up 139 on defense.
Johns believes in the Rockets and the run first, run second, run often, pass it when it's open philosophy and play tough down in the trenches football that has gotten them where they are.
"The keys to beating Cascade for us are to improve our execution and physicality on offense, out hit them on defense and continue to play sound in the kicking game," Johns said.
Probably the biggest factor for execution on the field this week for Forrest is what happens off the field during Homecoming celebrations leading up to the big game.
"The team's goal in practice this week has been to block out the homecoming distractions for a few hours and to give the Cascade game plan our full attention," Johns stated. "We constantly communicate with the kids on how to handle homecoming week. We want them to enjoy it, especially the seniors, but at the same time we've got focus on getting a win vs Cascade."
The Rockets will be focused and ready to go as whip the Champions 30-6 at Murrey Holton E. Memorial Field in Chapel Hill.
The Cornersville Bulldogs (2-2, 2-0) are back in the playoff mix in Class A with back-to-back region wins and face Mt. Pleasant this week at Frog Bottom in another league contest.
"A win Friday Night would be huge for our program, it would allow us to stay atop of the region standings and it would help confidence-wise also. One of our team goals this year is to make the playoffs and winning on Friday night can put us one step closer to that goal," Cornersville coach Gerard Randolph said.
The Bulldogs have not had success versus the Tigers, who are winless this season and sit in last place in the region standings.
"It has been several years since the Bulldogs have had a victory over Mt. Pleasant, and this year we would love to end that losing streak," Randolph stated.
Cornersville is coming off a much needed bye week and the squad will be healthy and well prepared when they take the field Friday night.
"We have some guys that have been playing week after week banged up and this past week gave our team a chance to heal some," Randolph said. "The bye week also gave us a chance to work to work on some fundamentals and correct some mistakes that have plagued our squad the first half of the season."
Randolph is talking about turnovers and penalties and the impact they have on a team's success and the Dawgs cannot afford to give the ball away to a downtrodden Mt. Pleasant squad that has enough athletes to cause a big problem if handed the rock.
"If we want to be successful on Friday night, we have to win at all three phases of the game; offense, defense, and special teams," Randolph said. "We also have to win the turnover battle. We need to be able to force turnovers and eliminate costly penalties. If we can come out focused and ready to compete, I think we will be okay on Friday night."
The Bulldogs will be alright and they will finally break the Mt. Pleasant jinx with a jubilant 28-7