GOODY, Ky – Headlining the first game of the 32nd annual Pike County Bowl will be Phelps and East Ridge on Friday night.
Fans can surely expect a different game from last year’s 36-0 trouncing the Warriors gave to the Hornets. Phelps has improved a lot from last season and they proved that last Friday night during their 28-8 loss to Allen Central.
The hype surrounding the Hornets prior to the game was an enigma all its own. Would the Hornets storm the field and win by 30 points? Would they lose by 60 points? No one knew, but everyone showed up to find out. The answer that was given is one that should be worn with respect, the Hornets did not quit. The Hornets may have had some mistakes but they held strong for four quarters of play and that was a victory in its own.
Heading into Friday night the Hornets will face a familiar foe in the Warriors and will also have the duty of containing Brody Johnson who scored four TD’s himself against the Hornets defense. Johnson received most of the touches last year and finished the game with 14 rushes for 233-yards. The Warriors attempted one pass that was incomplete and left most of the workload on the legs of Johnson. This is not to say that the Warriors cannot pass, they passed for 634-yards last season and 11 passing TD’s.
The Warriors graduated 10 seniors from last season and a big portion of those were defensive skill players. The Hornets have a new offense and had some sparks of potency when they all got on the same page. Throughout the course of the game against Allen Central the Hornets worked and worked to find a formula that would work and during the second half they held a veteran Rebel team to only eight points.
Last year the Warriors finished 4-7. The Hornets went 0-10, but most can agree that this is a new team under the direction of first year head coach David Jones.
Coach Jones said that his team reacted well to last week’s loss. “The coaching staff and I were waiting to see on Monday how the kids were going to react. I was kind of nervous myself, but they came in ready to go. Expectations were so high for us heading into the game and I was worried it would be a big letdown for them but it wasn’t. We set through the films and went over everything and we have had a great week of practice. We have been full pads all week and the kids are out there hitting and it’s a great thing to see,” said Jones.
The Hornets defense will be a big part of the picture this game, containing Johnson is key. “We have been watching the films and honestly they (East Ridge) looks like they haven’t missed a beat. They are a well-coached team and I know they will be ready. If they take a similar game plan like last year and work Johnson we are going to be after him. We have kind of put that in the kids heads this week that they have to mindful of where he is at all the time,” said Jones.
Coach Jones also reports that the Hornets have been working on their timing, offensively. The Hornets were a 5-050 shot last week on whether it was going to be a good play or a bad play. When one mistake was corrected it revealed another and it took the Hornets until the final minute to put some points on the board. Penalties were also a factor for the Hornets but coach Jones believes he is seeing progress in his offense already. “Once our timing gets better people will see a lot better team. I feel like when things was going good for one bunch of kids it was going bad for the other, when the line was doing good the skill guys would mess up and when the skill guys was right we had some holes in the blocking. This is a young and new group and it will take time for them to all get on the same page but we see that problem and we are working on it every day,” said Jones.
The Hornets are still looking for that first win, that spark to place the missing piece into the machine to kick it in to overdrive. The whole team knows it’s there, they may find it on the field at CAM Stadium come Friday night at 6:00 p.m.
(William Plaster is the sports reporter for the Williamson Daily News, he can be reached at 304-235-4242 ext. 2274 or at [email protected] on on twitter @sidplaster.)