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Cougars set to face undefeated Titans Friday

By DAVID GRAVELY

editor@southwesttimes.com

 

The Cougar football team earned a 42-7 Homecoming win last week over the Cave Spring Knights, moving the team to 3-1 on the season. That win came at a cost, however, as two key players are now out of action.

 

Freshman center Nolan Dalton went down with a dislocated knee Friday, but went back into the game later and performed well. After talking with the team medical staff, Dalton will sit out this week to ensure that his knee has ample time to rest and recover heading into the final five games into the season.

 

“Nolan is a tough young man,” Cougar Head Coach Mark Dixon said. “Since stepping into the center position, he has done a really good job. He’s young and has a lot of growing to do, so he has the potential to be even better. We don’t want to take a chance on his knee not being 100% before we put him back on the field. He’ll be back.”

 

The other injury is to starting junior quarterback Cam Cooper. Late in the game, Cooper kept the ball and raced around the left side of the Cougar offensive line into open space. After a big gain, Cooper was tackled and went down hard and in an awkward position. The result was a broken collar bone, which will put him out of action for at least the foreseeable future, possibly the remainder of the season.

 

“Cam has been doing a great job for us and was just starting to really come into his own,” Coach Dixon said. “To see a young man work that hard and start seeing success, then to be forced out by an injury is tough. You hate it for him. We’re hoping for a quick and full recovery, but he won’t be back until he’s cleared medically.”

 

With that loss, sophomore Chris Gallimore (6’, 192) becomes the new man under center. Gallimore came into the game after Cooper’s injury and handed off several times before taking a knee to end the game.

 

“Chris is capable of getting the job done,” Dixon said. “He needs experience. He’s going to get that now. We’re going to ask him to learn on the fly. It’s a lot to take in at once, but that’s just the way it’s going to have to be. When a man goes down, the next man has to step up. He’s been working as the backup in practice all season, but now he’s going to have to take on the responsibility of being the starter. We’re going to do everything we can to help him speed up the learning curve.”

 

The Cougars will face a familiar opponent this week. The Cougars have played the Hidden Valley Titans each of the past 18 years. Pulaski County holds a 10-8 advantage in the series, including a 48-7 road win last season. The Titans defeated an injury riddled Cougar squad in 2019 14-35.

 

The Titans are led by Head Coach Scott Weaver, who is in his 13th season with Hidden Valley and has a record of 63-65. His first season in 2009, which ended with a record of 7-4 and a first round playoff loss to Christiansburg, was followed by an 0-10 campaign in 2010.

 

The Titans rebounded in 2011 to go 7-5, beating Bassett to open the playoffs but losing to the Blue Demons in round two. A 6-5 record in 2012 also saw the Titans fall to Christiansburg in round one. The 2013 season was a mix, with the Titans finishing 7-6 before falling to Heritage 7-12 in the state semifinals. The Titans haven’t made it past the first round since then.

 

This year, Hidden Valley will welcome the Cougars to Dwight Bogle Stadium with a perfect 5-0 record. They opened the season with a 14-12 win over Cave Spring. The following week was a 42-10 win over William Byrd. Week three was a 42-7 win over Northside.

 

Glenvar came to visit the Titans in week four. The result was a 55-51 win by the Titans. Last week, Hidden Valley earned a 28-21 victory over Franklin County.

 

“They’re a very good football team,” Coach Dixon said. “They have a good mix of size, speed and experience. They’ve taken their lumps the past few years, but this season they seem to be putting it all together. We’re going to have to play a great game Friday to come out with a win. We’ll need to limit the mistakes and control the football.”

 

Kickoff at Bogle Stadium at Cave Spring Middle School Friday is set for 7 p.m.

 

If you can’t make the game, be sure to tune in to 107.1 Country WPSK for the pregame show and then Rick Watson and Shay Dunnigan will call the game live. The pregame show will begin at 6:30 p.m.

 

For fans who need an earlier dose of Cougar football, Thursday is the day to come out to Kenneth J. Dobson Stadium. The Pulaski County Middle School Cougars will take the field at 5 p.m. to play the Christiansburg Blue Demons. That game will be followed by a JV contest between Pulaski County and Hidden Valley.

 

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