Prep Football: Mercer coach Pardue says Titans can't let up against Taylor
Mercer County receiver Chris Crawley-Goodman caught six passes for 165 yards and scored a touchdown on both offense and defense last week at Marion County. Friday he¿ll get a chance to make more plays against Taylor County. (Mike Marsee / October 10, 2012)
The Mercer coach said he realizes that many people will expect the Titans to trounce Taylor County on Friday based on the two teams’ recent performances, but he holds no such expectations.
Mercer (4-3, 1-1 District AAAA-5) comes into the game off consecutive wins, including its first district win last week. Taylor (4-3, 0-3), meanwhile, has followed the best start in school history with three straight district losses.
Still, Pardue said the Cardinals could be a handful.
“I think they’re very dangerous, and that’s what I told our kids,” Pardue said. “I’ve never, ever gone into a game where I was completely comfortable they would win, and this is no different. They’re going to hear it a lot from the community about how they should walk away with this win, and that’s just not true.”
Taylor started 4-0 for the first time in the school’s 41 football seasons but has been outscored 130-29 over the last three Fridays in losses to Boyle County, Marion County and Lexington Catholic. The Cardinals lost 21-15 to Marion County two weeks ago, but Pardue said they could easily have won that game.
Mercer comes off its first shutout in four years, a 55-0 win at Marion last week. A week earlier, the Titans held Nelson County’s record-setting passing attack to 28 points.
“I¿think we’ve played pretty good defense the last couple weeks, and I think that’s something that has set the tone for us,” Pardue said.
He said that while watching the video of the Marion game, he took note of the way the Titans tackled.
“I thought we gang-tackled a lot,” he said. “On a lot of the film, we had five, six, even seven kids at the ball at times, and that’s what we’ve been wanting to do. They’re finally enjoying it. I think there for a long time they did it just because the coaches were making them run to the football. Now they’re starting to see the effects of it.”
Cornerback Jordan Ellery and lineman G.W. Anderson lead Mercer in tackles with 72 and 64, respectively, and safety Russell Sims has a team-high four interceptions.
“He’s done a good job of getting over top of the receivers,” Pardue said of Sims. “One thing we’ve got to do better to stop the passing game is understand the situation.”
Pardue said Taylor’s offense will be similar to what the Titans saw from Marion.
“They’re going to line up in the wishbone. They will spread the field some, but they’re a power-option running team that will set you up for the big pass,” he said.
Taylor had 83 rushing yards and 53 passing yards in a loss to Boyle two weeks ago, but the Cardinals ran for 289 of their 306 yards last week against Lexington Catholic.
Mercer is averaging 29 points and 344 yards per game. The Titans threw for a season-high 235 yards at Marion, led by freshman Drew Davis, who threw for 195 yards in his debut at quarterback.
Pardue said he’ll go into this game with the same plan as last week, which is to start Darion Lewis at quarterback — Davis got on the field sooner than expected last week when Lewis suffered a minor injury on the first offensive play — and use both Lewis and Davis throughout the game.
Lewis has 283 rushing yards, 119 passing yards and 96 receiving yards.
“Darion’s got to be on the field for us because he’s a very, very good athlete,” Pardue said. “Being able to put him at quarterback some and at receiver some gives us more options,” Pardue said.