In one week’s time, Hurricane goes from ultimate ground-and-pound football to undeniable racehorse football. How successful the Redskins are in making the necessary changes may determine their fate.
Hurricane (1-1) hosts speedy Capital (1-1) at 7:30 p.m. Friday in a Mountain State Athletic Conference showcase game, with the winner almost a certainty to make the top 16 when the SSAC reveals its first set of Class AAA playoff ratings on Tuesday.
The Cougars have long been one of the state’s splashiest big-play teams. In their opener against Johnson Central, Kentucky, Chance Knox returned a punt 85 yards for a touchdown; last week versus South Charleston, Tay Calloway took a pass from Evan Landers and scooted 50 yards for a score.
“The more at-bats you give them, the more home runs they’re going to hit,’’ said Hurricane coach Jeremy Taylor. “The difference is that if we break one, it goes for 30 or 40 yards. If they break one, they’re gone. They’ve got overall team speed.’’
The worse news for the Redskins is that Capital also seems to be getting its ground game in gear. After finishing with minus rushing yardage against Johnson Central, the Cougars got 102 yards on 17 carries from Calloway last week. Hurricane has been a bit generous in its run defense so far, giving up an average of 247 yards, though it did come against a pair of run-heavy teams in Spring Valley and Winfield.
Spring Valley, in fact, dominated both lines of scrimmage against Hurricane, rushing for 355 yards and limiting the Redskins to a mere 16.
“They controlled the line of scrimmage [on defense] with four guys,’’ Taylor said. “When we tried to pass, they dropped seven and it’s hard to throw like that, especially when they have pressure coming at you like they do. I was surprised with how good they were defensively because the last two years, were able to move the ball on them.’’
Taylor hopes that his team can play keepaway with Capital, running the ball and killing clock with Christian Hill, his reliable All-State senior tailback.
“It’s not going to be a game where we come out and try to throw the ball all over the place,’’ Taylor said. “We want to try and control the ball and keep them off the field.’’
Capital also got more production out of its passing game last week with sophomore quarterback Evan Landers. He completed 10 of 16 throws for 183 yards, finding Calloway and Kerion Martin with scoring passes.
Cougars coach Jon Carpenter thinks his team is starting to find its rhythm after a documented lack of practice time in August.
“A little bit,’’ he said. “Thank God we’ve got such a good group. It sort of feels like our first year when we were really excited. When there ain’t nobody cares about who gets the credit, you can do a lot.’’