Getting down to the nitty gritty
Oh man, its nitty gritty time on the gridiron with the regular season winding down and teams making a run for region titles and other squads trying to stay alive in the playoff hunt.
The ninth-ranked Cornersville Bulldogs are one of those teams making a run for a region championship as they sit atop the Region 5A standings and face a road trip to seventh-ranked Fayetteville tonight.
“We are very appreciative to be in this position and have the opportunity to play in a game of this magnitude, the guys are continuing to work hard during this week of practice, and they understand what is at stake this week at Fayetteville,” Cornersville coach Gerard Randolph said. “We have to continue to work on us as a football team and take all the necessary precautions to prepare us to compete at a high level against Fayetteville.”
“We look forward to the challenge and the guys will be focused and ready to go on Friday night.”
This is probably one of the biggest games in the history of Bulldog football as they prepare for the chance to almost certainly clinch the region title with a win and Randolph is confident in his seasoned club.
“As far as pressure, we just try to keep things in perspective and just do what we know to do, and that is play football and enjoy it,” Randolph said. “I am very happy for this group of young men, because they have worked hard and continue to do so.”
The Bulldogs are on an offensive tear after winning four straight games and outscoring their opponents 168-35, including a 45-0 shellacking over Perry County last week in Frog Bottom.
“The offense has been really good the past four weeks and I hope we can continue that trend from here on out,” Randolph said. “I can't say enough about the job that our offensive staff has done this year with putting together great offensive games plans for the week.”
“The guys understand the scheme that we want to present and they have been able to go out and execute and carry it out.”
The Bulldog defense faces a big challenge this week at Fayetteville in trying to stop their senior standout running back Brandon Moore, who has rushed for 1,037 yards in six games this season with 12 touchdowns.
“Not only has Moore been a point of emphasis, but the entire team has caught our eye and he makes everyone on that team better when he is having success,” Randolph said.
Moore averages 9.5 yards per rush and also has eight pass receptions for 134 yards and a score, plus he is a dangerous kick return man.
“We have to do a really good job of getting a lot Bulldog players to him when he runs the ball and make sure that we make for-sure tackles on him,” Randolph emphasized. “He is very fast and elusive, so we will have to break down and bottle him up.”
The atmosphere last week in Cornersville was electric with a packed house and Randolph is appreciative of the community support the Bulldogs are receiving and he is certain the fans will travel to Fayetteville this week to watch an excellent football game with so much at stake.
“I hope all of Bulldog Nation can attend on Friday night, our guys would love for our crowd to make it a home contest for us,” Randolph exclaimed. “This is one of the biggest games in Cornersville High School Football history. The community is planning a big caravan on Friday and we would love to see a bunch Bulldog supporters packing their stadium. "’Go Dawgs’."
The Forrest Rockets are one of those teams fighting for their playoff life after a tough last second 8-7 non-region loss at Watertown last week that dropped Chapel Hill’s record to (1-5, 1-2).
“They are still working hard as usual,” Forrest coach Brent Johns said.
The Rockets have been in every game this season with their two region losses both decided in the fourth quarter.
The Rockets have made some mental mistakes and have suffered some costly turnovers that have contributed to the losing record, but Johns and the coaching staff keep on plugging away in an attempt to reduce the miscues.
“Yes it will,” Johns said of the mistake issue being on the front burner. “It’s something we spend a ton of practice time on though.”
On top of that, the Rockets are banged up and also have a few cases of mononucleosis on the team, severely limiting the squad this week when they entertain region leading, undefeated, and fifth ranked Lewis County (6-0, 3-0) tonight at Murrey E. Holton Field in Chapel Hill.
“The injuries and sickness is starting to really pile up, Johns said. “We had to move several people around yesterday just to make it through practice.”
The Panthers are averaging 39.1 points per game, but Johns still has a ton of confidence in his Rocket defense that has played well all year.
“Coach (Eli) Stephenson has our defense playing great right now,” Johns said. “They play with a lot of effort.”
The Rockets can still make the playoffs with a fourth-place finish in the Region 5/2A standings and an upset win this week could put them on the way to a playoff berth and a first round away game.
“Yes it would be nice to get an upset win,” Johns said. “But they (Lewis County) are a sound football team in all three phases.
Johns is happy the team is playing at the “Rock” this week and desperately wants to win one for the fans, who have been behind the squad all year.
“It’s always nice to play at home, maybe we can win one for them,” Johns said.