It’s a new beginning this week for the George Rogers Clark football team.
The Cardinals, winless in their first six games, open the district portion of the schedule Friday night in a 7:30 p.m. kickoff against Lafayette at Cardinal Stadium. The contest is the first of three consecutive district games and a final regular-season stretch that includes three home games during the next four weeks. It’s also homecoming week.
“As I told the kids Friday, you kinda take what you’ve done before and throw it out the window,” Clark coach Steven Collins said of his team’s first six games of the year. “The next three games are going to determine what we do beyond the regular season. Us, Lafayette, Tates Creek and Madison Central are all 0-0. You have an idea of where the power lies in there, but anything can happen. We’re going in with the mindset to practice and prepare to win the football game this week.”
Collins said he feels “good about some things we’ve done” and added that the team’s schedule has prepared his squad for the three district encounters.
“We have an idea of who we are and what we need to do to get the (win) on the board,” the Clark coach said. “We’re going to prepare to do that.”
Despite a nearly three-hour chartered bus trip to Harlan last week, the Cardinals held their own against the Black Bears and limited Harlan to its second lowest offensive scoring output of the season in the 23-14 setback. He added that his team’s “tackling and blocking” has improved significantly since the beginning of the season.
“We were physical, very physical,” Collins said. “I am a big firm believer in you play like you practice and we practiced physical last week. We played physical and we were standing toe-to-toe against an opponent that was pretty much bigger up front, but it didn’t matter. From the get-go, we went out and were able to hit them as much as they hit us and that paid off. We were able to jump on top of them and really kept them out of the end zone until about midway through the third quarter.
“I think we did some good things. But these kids, the thing about them — they play awfully hard and I’m so proud of them for that. When you do that, you give yourselves a chance against anybody.”
Collins said the outing is something his team can build on.
“I told the kids the building part is over,” he said. “Let’s take everything we’ve done in these past six games, put it in our memory the good things that we’ve done and go out and execute. We’re looking forward to it.”
The Clark coach added that homecoming can be “a distraction in itself,” but likes the atmosphere surrounding the contest.
“It’s good for the community and this program,” Collins said. “Hopefully we’ll have some old faces coming back to the game, we play well and get us a homecoming victory.”
According to Collins, the coaching staff is focused on Lafayette, but the players have a different view at times.
“As a player, your focus can get pulled in many different directions, so we’re going to keep it as streamlined as possible,” he said. “I want them to enjoy (it), but at the same time focus — we’ve got a game to play. Monday through Thursday it’s mental preparation time.”
The Generals (4-3) lost three in a row after opening with a 55-6 rout of Mason County to usher in the season. Since the 1-3 start, a stretch that featured losses to Bowling Green, Lexington¿Catholic and Owensboro, the Generals have won three straight, including a 33-29 triumph over Bryan Station last week.
Lafayette at GRCHS
When: Friday, 7:30 p.m.
Records: Clark 0-6, Lafayette 4-3.
Last week: Harlan County 23, Clark 14. Lafayette 33, B. Station 29.
Last meeting: Oct. 4, 2011. Lafayette 22, Clark 19.
Radio: 107.7 FM¿WKYN.