Cougars host Colonels tonight at KJD

By DAVID GRAVELY
SWT Sports Editor

The Cougar football team came out of last week’s game with several question marks, but the answers are still up in the air as they prepare to host the William Fleming Colonels tonight at Kenneth J. Dobson Stadium.

The game has been moved from Friday due to the expected heavy rains in the area through the weekend.

“We had to look at what was best for the game, the teams involved and the field,” Cougar head coach Stephen James said. “It’s supposed to rain Thursday. Friday it will be worse and the winds will pick up. Saturday is also supposed to have plenty of rain. It came down to playing Thursday in the rain or Monday, and we both agreed that Thursday would be the best option for everyone.”

Last week the Cougars did well passing, but their ground game was almost nonexistent with only 49 yards on 29 rushing attempts.

“We made some mistakes and sometimes we got pushed around a little bit,” James said. “Our guys are going to have to step up to the challenge and get better quickly. We can’t afford to have a play off against anyone right now. We’ve got a lot to prove and so far we’ve been coming up short. I think last week left a bitter taste in their mouths. After watching the film they realized what should have been. We should have got a win, but we shot ourselves in the foot too many times. We have to play smarter than that. I’m hoping they come out with a little bit of a chip on their shoulders tonight.”

The Colonels are led by head coach Bobby Martin, who is in his fifth year. Last season they finished with a record of 3 wins and 7 losses and didn’t make the playoffs. Last week they lost to an impressive Heritage (Lynchburg) team 54-15. Heritage is expected to make a very deep run in the playoffs this season.

The Colonels are led by junior quarterback Lawon Jones. Possibly one of the best players on the team, running back Malik Traynham, didn’t play last week but is expected to be on the field tonight. The wide receivers are Jallil Hines, Jabril Robinson and Keshon Johnson. Last week the running back was senior Jayvon Jones. The tight end is Naushad Payne. The rest of the line right guard Jaylan Holland (5’11”, 210), left guard Shawn Banks (5’11”, 200), right tackle Nicholas Pickett (6’, 280), left tackle Travis Allen (5’10”, 210) and center Jaylan Wallace (5’10”, 300).

“They’ll run a spread offense that looks a lot like ours at times,” James said. “They have good speed and skill players. We will need to wrap up and have good pursuit on defense.”

Defensively the Colonels will have sophomores Shane Johnson (5’9”, 205) and Sean Ferguson (5’10”, 250), junior Barshawn Rowe (5’10”, 250) and Wallace across the front. The linebackers will be Johnson and juniors DeAngleo Nichols (6’, 175) and Ramal Weldon (6’, 210). The secondary will have Robinson and Jones along with sophomore Dakota Hoston (5’10”, 160) and senior Dajohn Solomon (5’9”, 155).

“They will use a 50 or a 40 defense,” James said. “They like to come in off the edges and they play a combination of man and zone in the secondary. They get to the ball and aren’t afraid of contact.”

For the Cougars much of the lineup will be the same as last week.

The starting quarterback will be junior Kade Akers (6’2”, 200). He will be backed up by senior Kellen Dalton (6’, 150), who will also be starting at the H-back. The Z-back will be junior E.J. Horton (6’, 170). Senior Braeden Blevins (6’3”, 165) will also be seeing plenty of action as a wide out. The X will be senior Mason Clark (5’9”, 160). The running backs will be seniors Jaceri Eaves (5’11”, 200) and Jaylin Nowlin (5’11”, 180). Senior Connor Martin (5’11”, 190) will see offensive action as well as handling the punting duties. Junior Ryan Castle (5’10”, 200) will be the kicker.

The line will be many of the same names as last week, but they could end up in different spots. Seniors Brody Fields (6’, 270) and Chandler Dunnigan (6’2”, 270), Travis Byrd (5’10”, 235), John Minnick (6’, 280) and D.J. Gathers (6’2”, 210), juniors Cody Talbert (6’1”, 240), Carter Murray (5’9”, 255) and Jaxson Callahan (5’11”, 250) will all be in the mix along with sophomore Logan Fox (6’, 245). The tight end will be senior Noah Bradley (6’3”, 215).

The defensive line will see a rotation of Fields, Minnick, Dunnigan, Talbert, Byrd and junior Ben Arnett (5’10”, 190). The ends will be Eaves on one side and senior Sean Spencer (6’, 210) and Gathers on the other. The cornerbacks will be Horton and Dalton. The safeties will be sophomore Gage Mannon (5’10”, 180), Martin and O’Dell with Kade Akers providing backup when needed. The linebackers will be seniors Reymon Williams (5’8”, 195) and Alex Akers (5’10”, 190). They’ll be backed up by junior Matt Click (5’4”, 175) and senior Deamon Williams (5’8”, 190). Sophomore James Jackson (6’2”, 170) will see time at cornerback as well.

“We’re going to find out if our kids want to play football or not,” James said. “We’ve had a good week of practice, but sometimes you can’t tell from that. We’ve given them the tools and knowledge they need, now they just need to go out and play the game.”

Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. at Kenneth J. Dobson Stadium.

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