MADISON – For the majority of Scott’s last game against Logan, the Skyhawks excelled at limiting the number of times the Wildcats possessed the ball thus keeping the ball out of the hands of the Wildcat playmakers.
The plan seemed to work up until Logan’s last drive, which began with 10:18 remaining the fourth quarter, covered 79 yards in 15 plays and chewed up 9:21 off the clock. The Wildcats had ran just 22 plays totaling 93 yards in just under 11 minutes in a 21-12 victory over the Skyhawks.
Fast forward a week later and Scott coach Jeremy Dolin says that same blueprint is in place for Friday’s homecoming game against Class AA No. 6 Liberty (Raleigh).
“Doing what we had hoped to do against Logan, which was take care of the football, minimize mistakes, play sound special teams and play offense and defense like we have had for most of the season,” Dolin said. “I felt like we defended Logan very well until that last drive chewed up a lot of time and yardage.”
Scott, without the services of leading receiver Jayden Sharps, used a run heavy offense to rush for 311 yards on 58 attempts. Seniors Landon Stone (26 carries, 114 yards) and Cooper Martin (20 carries, 108 yards) combined to rush for 222 yards. Sophomore quarterback Matt Frye, who attempted just seven passes in the contest, added 61 yards on six carries.
“We ran the ball well between the tackles and that has been a strong point for most of the season,” Dolin said.
Scott enters Friday’s contest with a 4-2 record and a ranking of 15th in the latest West Virginia Secondary Schools Activities Commission rankings. The Skyhawks, who have not made the playoffs in seven years, can take a huge step toward ending that drought with a win over the Raiders.
“We have emphasized to our players since week one that we have to take it one game at a time,” Dolin said. “Of course our goal is to make the playoffs, but you can’t get caught looking ahead and I believe our players understand that.”
Three of the four remaining games are against Cardinal Conference opponents starting next week at Poca followed by a home game against Winfield on Oct. 29 and a road game to close out the season at Nitro on Nov. 5.
“This is a very important game for us because we have three strong Cardinal Conference teams to close the season,” Dolin said. “Poca is a top-three school, Winfield has a heck of a team and Nitro is a talented team although their record doesn’t reflect it.”
Liberty, tied for sixth with Lincoln, is riding a four-game winning streak since dropping its season opener 47-0 to third-ranked Independence on Aug. 27.
In last week’s 38-0 victory over Westside, the Raiders attempted just one pass and rushed for 321 yards. Leading the way was junior Peyton Pettry, who rushed for 114 yards and one touchdown on just seven carries. Logan Dodrill added 111 yards and two touchdowns on 27 carries. For Dodrill, it was his fourth straight game of rushing for at least 100 yards.
Not to be outdone by the offense, the Raider defense sacked Westside quarterback Jaxon Cogar six times, forced five Renegade fumbles, recovering three of them and held the Renegades to 78 yards of total offense in a 38-0 win.
“They are a physical team and have a couple of playmakers in Dodrill and Ryan Simms,” Dolin said. “They seem to be very disciplined and that is a sign of a well-coached team.”
Stopping the run will be very important given that Liberty has only attempted 19 passes all year, however, senior quarterback Clayton Williams has completed 12-of-19 passes for 207 yards and two touchdowns.
Dodrill leads the Raider ground attack with 685 yards and six touchdowns on 117 carries. Pettry has rushed for 251 yards and two touchdowns on 13 attempts and Simms has 148 yards on 48 carries and three touchdowns.
“In order to compete with them we have to match their physical play,” Dollin said.
Scott is starting to a few players back from injury; however, the continued absence of Sharps (18 receptions, 381 yards, 1 touchdown) is affecting the passing game.
Christian Cooper returned last week at defensive end for the Skyhawks, and senior offensive tackle Will Elkins will make his return from injury this week against Liberty.
“He (Will) will help sure up any issues we had on the offensive line last week,” Dolin said. “We got to find a way to get our passing game going despite not having our leading receiver in Jayden.”
The Skyhawk rushing attack, led by Martin (128 carries, 648 yards, 9 touchdowns) and Stone (58 carries, 364 yards, three touchdowns), will determine the outcome of an important contest, but the defense is certainly capable of shutting down the Raider rush attack.
“This is a big game for our program and the coaches and players both know it,” Dolin said. “We look forward to the task of trying to win a very big game.”