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Cougars improving, biggest tests lay ahead

To be brutally honest, I’ve not been very productive this week. When Pulaski County has a bye week, I usually take that time to relax a little bit and knock some things off the “honey-do” list. This has not been that kind of week.

 

I have only one person to blame for my lack of productivity, former Cougar football player Tony Powell. Tony took it upon himself to start a project and it has resulted in my spending far too much time in front of my computer screen.

 

Tony has been a busy bee, gathering old Cougar football game films, highlight reels, season highlight videos and other clips to digitize and put in a central location. He has now started posting those game films and clips on YouTube, which means I can get a little Cougar football any time of the day and any day of the week. Thanks Tony. Now I just have to figure out how to watch while writing.

 

Cougar football

 

To listen to some people talk, the average person might think that Cougar Head Coach Mark Dixon has put together an unstoppable force that will go undefeated until he decides otherwise.

 

Back in reality, we need to face a few facts. First, we haven’t really beaten anybody yet. As of Friday morning, Cave Spring is 1-2 with a win over Blacksburg. Hidden Valley is 0-3, but they’ll likely get their first win Friday when they play Blacksburg. Christiansburg is 1-2 with losses to Pulaski County and Salem. They beat Hidden Valley last week and play Patrick Henry this week. Blacksburg is in a tough spot. They are currently 0-4 and are going to have a tough time earning a win this season. They have Hidden Valley this week and Christiansburg the following week.

 

What stands in front of the Cougars is going to show us where we really stand. Patrick Henry is currently 3-1 with wins over Hidden Valley, Blacksburg and Cave Spring. The Hidden Valley game was concerning for the Patriots, as they only squeaked out a 14-6 victory in that one. Their lone loss came from Salem, 34-17.

 

Salem is the normal Salem. They’re 3-0 with wins over Blacksburg, Christiansburg and Patrick Henry. I have no doubt they’ll get their fourth win Friday against Cave Spring. They’re still doing what they’ve always done. They still do it well.

 

If Pulaski County can win these final two regular season games, they’ll be the top seed in the Class 4 Region D playoffs. If they win against Patrick Henry and lose to Salem, they should still likely end up as the second seed, but crazy things happen when the playoffs start.

 

Just win. Winning fixes lots of things.

 

Offensive stats

 

The Cougars have outscored their opponents 174-14 in their four games. That might seem like a really impressive stat, but Coach Dixon has a way of finding things wrong that need to be fixed, no matter how good the stats might be.

 

Pulaski County has earned 70 first downs this season, an average of 19.75 per game. Most of those have come from the rushing game, 57 to be exact. The passing game has earned 18 first downs and penalties have given the Cougars four first downs.

 

The Cougars have ran the ball 160 times for 820 yards. While that might look really good, as in an average of 205 yards per game, the truth of the matter is that 399 yards came against a very small and slow Blacksburg defense.

 

The Cougars only gained 83 yards on the ground against Cave Spring and 95 yards against Hidden Valley. Dixon attributes that slow start to his line not performing to the high level he expects.

 

Against Christiansburg the Cougars had their first back go over 100 yards for the night, thanks to a 21 carry, 149 yard effort by Ethan Gallimore. His example seemed to light a fire under the backsides of the remaining backs. Last week three Cougar backs broke 100 yards, but again it was against a mismatched Bruins defense.

 

Gallimore holds the top rushing spot with 29 carries for 283 yards. Keyonte Kennedy has 58 carries for 281 yards and Quemaar Porter has 24 carries for 144 yards.

 

Drew Dalton has completed 29 of 49 pass attempts for 582 yards and six touchdowns with only one interception. His primary targets have been Chase Dotson with seven catches for 184 yards, Jacob Johnson with 11 catches for 175 yards and Ethan Gallimore with five catches for 79 yards.

 

Kennedy leads all scorers with six touchdowns for 36 points. Dalton has five scores for 30 points and kicker Broc Simpson has connected on 24 of 25 point after kicks for 24 points. Eight other Cougars have scored including Dotson (18 points), Gallimore (18 points), Porter (12) and Layne Suthers (12). Will Bishop, Trevor Burton, Clay Phillips and Jacob Johnson each have one touchdown.

 

Defensive stats

 

Like the offensive stats, the defensive stats are a little skewed due to lackluster opponents as well. The Cougars have only given up 14 points in four games and 31 first downs. Pulaski County has only allowed eight of 45 third down attempts to succeed.

 

The Cougar defense has given up only 227 yards on the ground and 186 through the air, a total of 413 yards of total offense in four games.

 

The Cougars have intercepted seven passes this year and recovered five fumbles. Suthers and Porter have two interceptions each. Gallimore, Dotson and Corvin Carter have one each.

 

Gallimore leads the team with 20 tackles, two assists, 10 tackles for a loss, a sack, an interception and a forced fumble. Trevor Burton has 15 tackles, seven assists, three tackles for a loss (TFL) and one sack. Dotson has 11 tackles, three assists, two TFL, a sack, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery. Bishop has nine tackles, 10 assists, eight TFL, a sack and a forced fumble. Diego Turner has three tackles, six assists, five TFL, two sacks and a fumble recovery. Carter has eight tackles and three assists. John Lyman has seven tackles, two assists and two TFL. Suthers has seven tackles, two assists, two TFL and two interceptions. Clay Phillips has five tackles, three assists, three TFL and a fumble recovery. Zeke Surber has three tackles, three assists, four TFL and a sack.

 

The stats look good, but they should. We’ve won, but we were supposed to. What happens from this point forward will define the success or failure of this year’s team. Continue winning and improving and good things will come. Lose focus, things will go downhill quickly.

 

Kickoff Friday night at Kenneth J. Dobson Stadium is set for 7 p.m. It will be Homecoming Night for the Cougars as they host Patrick Henry.

 

The game will be livestreamed, details of that livestream will be released next week. Fans can also listen in live on 107.1FM WPSK with Rick Watson and Shay Dunnigan bringing the play-by-play.

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