When #7 Hurricane (2-0) takes the field tomorrow night against #6 Cabell Midland (1-!) it will mark almost a full year that these teams have been waiting to get it on again.
In talking to Metro News Knights' Coach Luke Salmons admitted as much, “The kids don’t need any motivation,” Salmons said. “We’re ready to play—they’re excited about playing Hurricane. As soon as Friday night’s game ended against South Charleston, our kids were already focused and ready for Hurricane.”
Redskin Coach Jeremy Taylor understands the emotion and history of the building rivalry between the teams. "beating them last year really ticked them off and they have had this game circled ever since."
Taylor knows that once the game starts it will come down to who executes better. "In games like these it often comes down to who makes less mistakes, turnovers and penalties can turn the game one way or another." He believes that last years 34-31 victory over Midland was a turning point for his team last season. "We overachieved last year, we had a team that had more success than anyone thought we would, this year we are better prepared."
When looking back on last year's contest most fans remember Bobbie McDougale's two scintillating 90+ yard touchdown runs, and of course Dylan Plumley's game winning touchdown, but Taylor recalls the game from a different perspective.
"We were down 14-0 and the kids could have easily quit, but we came back and tied the game by moving the ball consistently. That's what we need to do tomorrow night." Taylor believes that Christian Hill running behind a thus far strong offense line will be a key. "I will gladly take 3 yards a carry and control the ball to keep their offense off the field." Of course having the duel pass catching threat of Dakota Williams and Curon Cordon at his disposal wont hurt either. "Just having them out there can soften up a defense to the run, we saw that against Paintsville."
Cabell Midland may be the best team in the state, this side of Martinsburg. They embarrassed GW in the Grid-a-Rama, put 42 points up against a powerful Anderson (Cincinnati) team, and then hung 49 on a probably playoff team in South Charleston last week.
Ivan Vaughn keys the Knights running attack and he had a typical game against South Charleston (25-193-3td). With Isiah Duncan who had 131 yards rushing against Anderson unavailable last week, Salmons reached over to his defense for Griffin Adkins. Adkins responded for 220 yards and 3 scores on his 19 carries. “We have a lot of confidence in him running the ball, but we never really used him,” Salmons said. “He’s always played running back growing up, and we worked him there in practice just in case we need to go to him. With Isaiah being out, we needed a tailback.”
Behind Midland's strong offensive line perhaps Hurricane's lineman Tommy Butler could line up and gain 150 yards rushing.
Tommy and the Skins defensive line with be more concerned with plugging holes and preparing themselves for 50+ rushing attempts that Midland will throw at them. In fact the Knights have attempted only 12 passes thus far, completing 6 including 2 for touchdowns. The Redskins' defense know that they will be tested.
"Beating them last year does a lot for our confidence going into this game", Taylor said "we know what we are capable of doing." He looks at the big picture of this game for his team, "Midland is a top 4 team, if we aspire to be, we have to beat top teams on a consistent basis. If we want to be the best we have to beat the best, this is our first opportunity to do so."
PREDICTION: This one worries me, Cabell MIdland is good, very good. They have been waiting for revenge against the Redskins for 12 months and will take this game very seriously. Not many teams go into beautiful downtown Ona and come away with a victory. But Hurricane is improved this season and a victory over Midland, however early in the season, puts Hurricane in the conversation as one of the teams with a realistic chance for a championship trip to Wheeling. Additionally, although they scored the victory over Midland last season, many Redskin players have also had this game circled on THEIR calendars.
Hurricane 38 Midland 35
Notes: The game will be streamed live on wchstv.com and can also be seen on ASN. (Suddenlink channel 125).