By Denis House
Coach Jason Chappell knows the importance of tonight’s game with district foe Lincoln Co.
“I don’t know if it’s win and you’re in or lose and you’re out, but it’s getting close,” Chappell said.
Chappell’s Cardinals come into tonight’s game with an 0-2 district record and sitting in last place in the district, while Lincoln and Pulaski Co. are tied for first with 2-0 records. A win tonight against the Patriots would definitely give South Laurel the boost needed to make the playoffs.
But it won’t come easy, and Chappell knows that.
“Lincoln is a pretty good football team,” Chappell said. “I thought Corbin was the best team we’ve played all year up front, but Lincoln Co. is physical and gets after you on both sides of the ball.”
The Patriots are coming off a lackluster 12-2 win over Rockcastle Co. last week, a game that saw very little offense from the Patriots, but a very strong defensive performance, led by sophomore linebacker Skyler Gilbert, who intercepted a pass and returned it 55 yards for the score.
“Their linebackers maybe the best we’ll see all year,” Chappell said. “They could give us problems. Their entire defense I’m impressed with. They fly to the football; all 11 guys get to the football.”
One player Chappell and South Laurel won’t have to worry about is senior Nathan Bustle, who is out with a fractured kneecap. But the Patriots aren’t without their weapons.
“Their quarterback (Levi Rogers) is a good runner and passer, and he shows a lot of poise,” Chappell said. “Also, Avery Spicer has speed, and we’ll have to do a good job containing him.”
“The key for us is if they put 5-6 in the box, we have to run the ball,” Chappell said. “And slow down their linebackers. We’ve got to be able to protect the ball. We’ve been a good team when we do that.”
The Cardinals are coming off a bye week, and Chappell said it came at a very opportune time.
“The week off came at a good time for us,” Chappell said. “It’s given us a chance to heal up and refocus. We’ve had a great week of practice so far, and there are other opportunities to be proud of these kids other than Friday nights. I’ve been proud of them in practice this week.”
A win by the Patriots tonight would clinch a home playoff game, but Coach Larry French knows it will be a battle for his team.
“South throws the ball well, which can be a problem for us,” French said. “It’s also a tough place for us to play.”
“We’ll have our hands full,” Chappell said. “But if we can play up to our potential, we can win. If not, we could easily lose.”
Kick-off is set for 7:30 p.m. tonight at Gilliam Field. It is also Football Homecoming Night at South Laurel.