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Red Devils hit the road to face Bears

by James Leigh | September 24, 2021 at 4:00 a.m.
Mountain Pine's Dayjon Matlock celebrates last week after scoring against Episcopal Collegiate. The Red Devils travel to Marshall Friday. - Photo by Tanner Newton of The Sentinel-Record

Mountain Pine has gotten off to a strong start as the Red Devils come off their scheduled bye week to face the Woodlawn Bears tonight at Carl Jones Sports Complex in Rison.

Head coach Sam Counce said that his Red Devils (2-1) had some good practices this week in preparation for the Bears after the coaching staff "worked them pretty hard last week."

"We ran 'em good," Counce said. "And we did a little scrimmage last Friday, had a little fun with them. And then this week, we went back to work, and they've, they've taken it real well. I mean, Monday wasn't as good, but Tuesday and Wednesday we had a real sharp practice, and I feel good about what we're doing as far as preparation for Woodlawn. We know what we want to do and feel like executing is, is the key to it, as always. We didn't execute before, but I think we're, I think we're heading in the right direction now."

The cooler weather has also helped the team going into this week.

"We've had good practices this week," Counce said. "The weather kind of broke on us, you know, it's a little cooler, and then it rained one day, and it was real nice. The kids have had a little pep in their step this week."

Counce said that the coaches decided to let the team scrimmage to give them a chance to do something besides hitting each other.

"We divided them up and tried to get them even," he said. "You know, after a long week of beating on each other, I wanted them to have a pretty good taste in their mouth for the weekend. Go rest and get ready."

The Bears enter tonight's contest off a two week break after defeating Marvell-Elaine 66-26 in Week 0 and downing Rose Bud 40-26 on Sept. 3. Counce knows that the team is not one to overlook.

"They've got a running back, number 20 (junior Caleb Martin), and a quarterback, number 10 (junior Jaxson Martin), that's pretty good that we'll have, we'll have trouble, you know, catching up with him sometimes," he said. "They run the dive, and then they'll pull it and pitch it. And then number 20 gets down the field pretty good, that running back, and number 10, the quarterback, does a good job. They've got a number 53 (junior Emanuel Wagner) plays in the offensive and defensive line that's good. And number 7 (senior Parker Rotton), that plays defensively that's not bad. You know, they're just like us. You know, they've got some, they got some standout guys, and then you know, they've got their team."

Counce said that the Bears will present "a pretty good test for us."

"We've got to come off the ball," he said. "We've worked hard on our offensive line trying to get those guys to understand what we're trying to accomplish with them. You know, the plays and the responsibilities and everything. We kind of started from scratch last week with those guys. I think we've helped it. I don't think we've got it completely fixed, but I think we're in better shape than we were before."

Woodlawn, like many eight-man football teams, likes to keep the ball on the ground primarily.

"They run a pistol, and then they'll get into a three by one and two by two," he said. "You know, they'll run doubles, and they'll run trips, but they really, they like getting it to their dive back, and the quarterback likes to run it, the option. ... They'll pull the backside guard and get it to the tailback. You know, they like to get it to 20, but they don't really give it to him that much on the option. They pitch it some. They really don't like pitching it. It's not what they're trying to do."

The Red Devils will also be back up to full speed this week.

"We're healthy," he said. "Jayden Walker had a pulled muscle, but I think he's back to 100% now. He was the only one that we kind of rest a little bit last week to heal up, and he's back this week, 100%."

Kickoff is set for 7 p.m.

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