By Dan Callahan
Pulaski County, coming off a much improved performance against Northside, will host Patrick Henry in Kenneth J. Dobson Stadium/Joel Hicks Field tomorrow evening at 7:30. PH comes into the game with a 2-0 record after posting convincing wins over Hidden Valley and Bassett. The Cougars are looking for that first victory off the season after an 0-2 start.
“We’re going to have to play assignment football,” said Pulaski County head coach Todd Jones when talking about what it would take to stop the Patriot offense. “We must read our keys well, communicate with each other on the field, and we must remember that we can play excellent defense for 10 straight plays, but a failure to communicate or not reading your key and being where you’re supposed to be could result in giving up a big play and ruin everything you’ve done on just one play. That’s what happened to us against Northside. Overall, we played very well on defense, but we gave up a couple of big plays and that was the difference.”
Patrick Henry is under the direction of new coach Alan Fiddler who came to the Roanoke school from Glenville State College in West Virginia. He also owns five West Virginia state high school championships in his career. The Pats will run a wing-T and spread type of offense and do both about the same percentage of time. They will also mix the pass with the run. PH is an athletic team and defensively runs to the football well and has very active linebackers.
PH can strike a number of ways and last week scored on run, a pass, an interception, a punt return, and a field goal. PH gets a lot of players involved, but Jones says containing one guy is the key.
“The quarterback, he’s a good one with excellent speed. PH is a speed team, but the quarterback makes them go. He can run, he can throw, he can make plays.”
Jones is talking about David Prince who has passed for over 100 yards and run for over 100 yards in both PH wins. Prince has some mules up front to hide behind too in 6-6, 290 Brian Revia, 6-3, 285 Spence Wright, and 6-2, 290 Kevin Hughes.
But Jones has high hopes for his squad and was pleased with the improvement last week. The Cougars played better up front, the backs had room to run, tailback Marcus McClanahan and wide receiver Zach Akers had outstanding games, and except for allowing a couple of big plays, the Pulaski County defense was impressive, but the most encouraging aspect was the obvious improvement offensively.
“Yes, we did improve a great deal. I just wish we could have started out the season playing like we did last week,” said Jones, “but our pre-season situation didn’t help us as much as we thought it might, but I really feel like the kids are coming around. We improved a bunch last week, and this team will continue to improve. I still don’t think people realize how young we are overall, but for sure, we got better, we’re going to continue to get better and just grow and mature as a team.”
Jones says it’s obvious what his Cougars have to do to knockoff PH. “No turnovers, we cannot give PH any extra possessions and on offense, we need to finish, when we have an opportunity finish the process, slam it in the end zone. We also need to win the battle up front. It will be a test, but I like our chances. We’re healthy, just a little bruise here and there, but that’s football, and there aren’t any lineup changes. Except for trying to figure out how to practice with all the rain, we’re fine and ready to go.”[
Defensively, Pierce Rigney, Phoenix Ramsey, and James King will start up front. The five linebacker scheme will have Adam Allen, Gabe LeBlanc, Cody Long, Zach Dao, and Corey Dobbins spread across the field, and the secondary will have Dillon Alley, Corky Hall, and Andrew Samuelson.
Offensively, the Cougars will start Tyler Golden, Sammy Songer, Codie Blevins, James Reynolds, and Chris Belcher up front.The quarterback will be either Tyler Dotson or Marcus Johnston, McClanahan will be the tail of the tandem, Rick Cobbs the fullback, and Brandon Brock the wing. Akers will lead the receiving corps which could also consist of Brandon Jones, Bryan Cox, Cody Smythers, or Matt Green.