Cougars set to face Vikings in season opener

By DAVID GRAVELY
SWT SPORTS EDITOR

This Friday night, it’s all for real.

The constant rotation of players, the limited amount of plays and the time to prepare are over. The regular season opens Friday as they Pulaski County Cougars host the Northside Vikings for the 33rd matchup between the two programs.

“They’ve shown some things in their scrimmages that we’re trying to figure out how to stop,” Cougar head coach Stephen James said. “They’ve got a new head coach and it’s hard to tell exactly which direction he is going to take the program right now. We’re going to focus on doing our jobs well and executing. If we can do that and limit our mistakes, the rest will play out on the field.”

The Cougars come into the contest after a successful preseason. Many position changes have taken place over the past month, and some roster moves have taken place as well.

Offensively the Cougars will start with seniors Brody Fields (6’, 270) at the right guard and Chandler Dunnigan (6’2”, 270) at the left guard. The left tackle will be junior Cody Talbert (6’1”, 240) and the right tackle will be a combination of seniors Travis Byrd (5’10”, 235) and D.J. Gathers (6’2”, 210). Junior Jaxson Callahan (5’11”, 250) will be the center.

The tight end will be senior Noah Bradley (6’3”, 215). Backing them up with be senior John Minnick (6’, 280), junior Carter Murray (5’9”, 255) and sophomore Logan Fox (6’, 245)

Then comes the dynamite.

The starting quarterback will be junior Kade Akers (6’2”, 200). He will be backed up by senior Kellen Dalton (6’, 150), but Dalton will also be starting at the H-back after a sensational showing in the scrimmages last week. He’ll be backed up by junior Noah O’Dell (6’2”, 175). 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 likely see offensive action as well as handling the punting duties. Junior Ryan Castle (5’10”, 200) will be the kicker.

On defense there will be many of the same names.

The defensive line will see any combination 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 Martin and O’Dell with Kade Akers and sophomore Gage Mannon (5’10”, 180) 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 not your normal Cougar football team,” James said. “I’m not sure if Pulaski County has ever been short of linemen, but we’ve got some guys that are learning very quickly and improving every day. Our goal is for them to be solid and ready to go as soon as possible. Right now we can’t afford an injury.”

“I think we’re very athletic overall,” he continued. “These guys have worked hard and done everything we’ve asked of them. The seniors have been unselfish and are at times playing in positions they may not have expected to be in. They are willing to do what’s best for the team, and that’s where it all begins.”

Fifty young men will walk down those 63 steps Friday night at Kenneth J. Dobson Stadium. That includes 20 seniors, 16 juniors, 10 sophomores and four freshmen.

When the lights come on at the steps, the band starts playing “2001” and the Cougars Crazies begin to cheer, all of Pulaski County will be watching.

It’s time for Cougar football.

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