The Matewan Tigers will travel to New Richmond tonight to clash with the Wyoming East Warriors. Head Coach Yogi Kinder will make the trip with the team but with his absence over the past months for personal reasons, he has assistant John Fry calling the shots on the sidelines.
The Warriors lost seven players to graduation last year including QB Thad Grogg. The former QB threw for over 1100 yards with nine TD passes, although Wyoming had a disappointing 1-9 record on the season.
Even with the loss of seven, head Coach Gary Poindexter has close to 50 players making up the 2010/11 roster, six of those seniors. He looks to be loaded with experience on the offensive line with a senior QB in Derek Sesco.
Fry’s main concern is the running game of Wyoming East. While he isn’t too worried about Sesco’s passing, he is very wary of the QB’s running ability.
“They are a running team,” Fry said. “They have a good quarterback that is a great runner. He can fly. We have to fundamentally sound football, know our assignments and stick to them.”
However, the Tigers will take advantage of any weakness Wyoming’s OL might have with a defensive line led by seniors. Matewan’s DL’s size and strength is a testament to the use of the weight room during offseason.
Fry said he will run a 4-4 defense; an aggressive defenses with multiple blitz packages that can easily be concealed or changed. This defense will put the Tigers in a very good position to stop attempts by the Warriors to keep the ball on the ground and is simple to change up and confuse the offense.
Fry is looking for the Warriors to play a 5-3 D and with senior QB Cody Centers; he will exploit them from the air but plans to use the run as well. Look for the Tigers to mix it up with the Wing-T and some spread offense with Cody, at times, dropping back into the shotgun.
The QB will have plenty of protection against the Warriors’ D as the Tiger’s offensive line is strong with 4-year starter senior John Bailey anchoring the line. Another senior on the line is Justin Bradford, also a 4-year starter. Fry said Bradford could be the “best player in the county if he wanted to.”
The only weakness that could affect single A Matewan is the number of bodies the AA Warriors are able to throw at them with Wyoming’s roster doubling that of the Tigers. Fatigue could become a factor in this game but Fry said he knew coming into the year the Tigers would have to be in great shape with such a brutal schedule.
“We worked on conditioning very hard,” he said. “We are in great shape. I’m not too concerned about them wearing us down.”
Fry said he has preached to the team all week about his game being critical to the Tigers.
“It will set the tone for the rest of the season and we will earn more points toward postseason play,” he said.
Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m.