If You Want To Be The Best, You Have To Beat The Best
Tonight Hurricane plays it's third game of a killer 3 game homestand in which the Redskins have faced 3 of the top 5 teams in the state. This time it is #1 Huntington (6-0) coming to Redskin Stadium to do battle.
Coach Jeremy Taylor knows his 7th ranked Redskins will be tested AGAIN. "Huntington will be the best overall defense that we will play. They are a very well coached team and Billy Seals will have them prepared. This will be a great game between two Top 10 teams. It going to be a championship type atmosphere."
Seals commented on the Redskins "They rely on big plays. Both receivers they have can take it the distance at any time"
Perhaps the Highlanders coach needs to meet Christian Hill. Hill is 3rd in the MSAC in rushing with 917 yards on 154 carries, and allows Taylor to run a balanced offense.
The ability to run the ball effectively behind a strong offensive line, allows Redskin QB Nathan Roy, (13 TD vs only 1 Int) to the strike for big plays downfield.
The master of the big play has been Dakota Williams, who leads the MSAC in receiving yards with 526 and perhaps the world with his average 26.8 yards per reception!
Huntington Counters with Jadon Hayes who leads the conference with 1132 yards rushing and 20 touchdowns. Perhaps the best pure ball carries the Redskins will face this season was "held" to 119 yards on 27 carries in last year's 24-13 Huntington victory. If Hurricane can limit Hayes to 4.4 yards per carry tonight it will bode well for the Redskins chance to pull off the upset.
HIghlander quarterback Luke Zban has a ton of experience as a good game manager for Huntington. However in the exact same 101 passes attempted as Roy, Zban has 4 TDs and 5 interceptions.
A fact not lost on Hurricane's Defensive coordinator Jason Pratt. "Defensively we understand they will make plays. We will keep things simple tonight and let our guys play. We need to create turnovers and we are good at creating them." Pratt also coaches the Redskins special teams adds, "we have to win the special teams battle, that's the wild card here."
Special teams played a key negative roll in the Redskins two losses this season. A kickoff return and another kickoff not fielded by Hurricane basically doomed their chances at Cabell Midland, and last week's blocked FG returned for a 88 yard TD by Capital changed the entire complexion of that contest.
In case you have been under a rock at the construction site of the new Farmer's Bank, lets review the Redskins season thus far.
Playing an impressive schedule, Hurricane opened with a 31-15 victory over Winfield (4-2), then handed Class A power Paintsville Ky (6-1) their first home loss since 2009, 17-13. After losing to Cabell Midland 41-21, Hurricane got a road win at Woodrow Wilson 42-28 and then shocked the state by trouncing Class AAA runner up Spring Valley (4-2) 41-21 before falling to 4-2 Capital last Friday.
Huntington has not only beaten Capital and Spring Valley but also owns victories over Belfry Ky, George Washington, Ripley, and Parkersburg.
J.T. Cooper leads Hurricane with 69 tackles. Payton Lunsford has 67 and Cameron Kimble 54. Steven Shine leads the team with 4 sacks.
Zban was only 2-5 with a TD and an INT in last season's victory of Hurricane.
Huntington has won the last 4 games between the schools, prior to that Hurricane had a 4 game win streak of their own against the Highlanders from 2007-2010.
93.7 the DAWG will stream the game live.
After tonight the Redskins will not return home until their final game of the regular Season vs. Scott Tinsley's St. Albans Dragons.
Rick Ryan is the only expert/guru in the entire nation to pick the Redskins to win tonight. In fact "Take Me Home Sports Podcast" Hurricane alums Matthew Cooper and John Fisher both picked the Highlanders to win.
Prediction: In looking at this contest I studied 3 of Hurricane's recent losses. Cabell Midland and Capital this season and Huntington last year. In doing so I keep coming back to "self-inflicted" wounds that cost Hurricane. And large deep wounds they were! The aforementioned special teams gaffs certainly were the difference in our 2 losses this season as Hurricane basically played both Midland and Capital statistically equal.
Against Huntington the Redskins trailed 17-13 in an evenly matched contest in which Hurricane was posed to emerge with a victory. However a fumble returned for a Highlander TD sealed the Redskins' fate in the 24-13 defeat. Huntington may be a bit better this season but Hurricane is significantly better, especially on offense, this game is at home and if we avoid the big negative back breaking play, the Redskins get the win!
Hurricane 24 Huntington 20
The game has been designated as a purple-out" to honor Katie Cobb.