George Rogers Clark football coach Steven Collins liked the way his team finished in last week’s 40-6 loss to third-ranked Scott County.
The first-year Clark coach hopes his team can build on the second half of last week’s setback Friday night when the Cardinals take a road trip to Harlan County to take on the Black Bears in a 7:30 p.m. kickoff at former Cawood High School. Scott County led Clark 26-0 at the half, but the hosts limited the visitors to just two touchdowns and 135 total yards during the final two quarters, giving Collins and his staff room for optimism going into the second half of the season.
Collins said the Cards “let some things slip away from us” in the opening two quarters against Scott County, resulting in the early deficit.
“It’s just a lot of new faces in new places,” Collins said. “Even with (Darian) Skinner at quarterback. He gives us the best chance to win. He came to us and said he would (play) quarterback because he wants to see his team win. We’ve got a lot of kids new at first-time positions and it’s a growing process and it just shows what kind of team we have. The kids will do anything (to help the team). He (Skinner) will be playing at the corner or slot receiver or something (at the next level). They’re getting better each week.”
Going into the team’s fourth road trip of the season, Collins said his squad is gaining more confidence as it prepares for the district portion of the schedule.
“There is some confidence, definitely some confidence,” he said. “We watched the film (Monday) and took away some of the good things that we did and looked at some of the negative things that we had. We’re one step away, one tackle away or one block away from having a different result.”
Like Clark, the Black Bears (3-2) are coming off a loss last week. Harlan had a hard time finding the end zone in a 12-6 setback to Knox Central, a contrast from the second week of the season when the Black Bears defeated Tates Creek 65-54 in an offensive shootout.
Collins said Harlan is a mirror image of a “typical mountain team.”
“They line it up toe-to-toe and run it right at you,” Collins said. “They like to play football in the trenches — they’re physical and they have good, hard-nosed running backs. Defensively, they like to send pressure and attack you.
“They like to put a lot of pressure on the line of scrimmage.”
Clark plans to counter the Black Bears’ presence up front by utilizing its speed.
“I think we have a speed advantage with the outside and will be able to do some things,” Collins said. “From tackle to tackle, it’s a tough challenge.They’ve got some big strong boys. We need to make sure with what we’re doing, we’re sustaining whatever blocks we need to get our guys on the edge and be able to do some things.”
Collins added that he doesn’t want to get into a “smash mouth” encounter with Harlan.
“Our offense is not to line up to-to-toe and run right at you,” he said. “We like to spread you out and get our guys out in (open) space. We’ll continue to do that and hopefully some good results will happen. Our key is to make sure we don’t have any fumbles, limit any type of turnover, whether it be offense, defense or special teams.
“When we have opportunities, we need to make sure we cash in on it. Defensively, we’ve just got to attack and dictate the line of scrimmage against this bunch.”