The George Rogers Clark football team can’t wait to get back on the field.
The Cardinals, who haven’t played since a 14-13 loss to Corbin in their season-opener, will attempt to get their first win of the season Friday night at Montgomery County. Clark coach Steve Collins, an assistant coach with the Indians the two previous seasons, said his team has been “chomping at the bit to get back out there.”
“You lose that game by a point and it’s been a long time to get (a chance)¿to redeem (ourselves),” Collins said. “We’re pretty much putting that all behind us and we’re focused on Montgomery (County). It (the loss) has motivated them to get back out there and prove to themselves, and say, ‘Hey, we messed up a lot, but we want to rectify that.’”
Collins said the week off gave his team a chance to regain traction for the remainder of the season.
“We got a lot of things accomplished that we needed to get done,” he said. “We got healthy and we were able to address some of the issues that we have been facing. We started talking about the obvious things, finishing drives, capitalizing on opportunities and being more disciplined and finishing.¿We’ve got to make sure we don’t shoot ourselves in our own foot and capitalize on (the other team’s) mistakes if they make any.”
Collins said most of the emphasis was working on fine-tuning drives from the 25-yard line to the end zone.
“We tweaked a few things and added some things,” he said. “We also talked about the kids’ mental focus during that time (inside the red zone). It’s great to go from 20-to-20, but we’ve got to cash it in. We’re not always going to score on a big play, so we’ve got to sustain those eight and nine play drives and make them 12 and 13 play drives and get it in the end zone.”
He added that the kicking game is “coming along.”
“We feel confident when we get inside the 20, we’ll (at least) get three points,” Collins said.
“All those things factor into the mind set of what we’re doing.”
In his return to Cunningham Field, Collins will face a Montgomery County squad that’s off to a 2-0 start. The Indians opened with a 25-15 victory over Rowan County on Aug. 18 and defeated Mason County 21-14 last week in Maysville. Collins helped develop Montgomery County quarterback Matt Tuttle and is familiar with his skills. Similar to the package he employed while with the Indians, Montgomery County’s offense is centered around Tuttle.
Collins said the key to his team’s success is containing Tuttle and keeping his own squad on an even keel.
“I think it all starts with Tuttle and the quarterback and what they do,” Collins said. “We just have to play within ourselves. This is a rival game for us and for them, too. There are plenty of story lines with myself and coach Brandon Brewer, but we need to be taking care of what we do execution wise, take care of the football and play defense the way I know we can play.”
In last year’s meeting between the two border rivals, Clark came away with a 38-27 triumph over the Indians at Cardinal Stadium. Montgomery County coach Dan Gooch expects a similar contest this time around, but added that his team is still finding a way to replace running back Uvea Moala who went down with a broken foot during a preseason scrimmage.
Blake Preston and Tuttle have carried the load in the first two games and helped fill the void in the backfield. Preston has rushed for 231 yards and a pair of touchdowns, while Tuttle has gained 217 yards rushing, with 306 yards passing and five scores in two games.
“Matt Tuttle has done a great job running the offense and Blake Preston has been getting those tough yards for us,” Gooch said. “We’re still getting a feel for what we do with our scheme without Moala. He was a big part of our offense and our defense as a linebacker.”
Gooch said his team’s top priority will be to ground the Cardinals, who rushed for 329 yards in the narrow loss to the Redhounds.
“We’ve got try to contain their speed, that’s the big thing,” he said. “They just have so much team speed all over the field.
“Defensively they really get after it.”
GRCHS at Montgomery County
When: Friday, 7:30 p.m.
Records: Clark 0-1, Montgomery 2-0.
Last game: Corbin 14, Clark 13. Montgomery 21, Mason Co. 14
Last meeting: Clark 38, Montgomery 27.
Radio: 107.7 FM WKYN