The Cutter Morning Star Eagles are going with a "Cutter Cowboy" theme for their home football opener against the Corning Bobcats today.
"It was already set when I got here," Eagles head coach Nick Finley said. "Coach (Beau) Brickell, we like to theme out our games. A lot of our kids are from the country. We are outside the city limits. I think it is just something that kind of stuck. It is for them to have something fun. It is not trying to replace our Eagles or anything. It is more for our theme night. It is something to say, 'We are a little raw, a little edgy. We are a little country but hey, it is OK.' We embrace that with our kids."
Finley said the student section should be rocking at the game tonight.
"We set our student council this week and we put that out there," he said. "Last year was the first year of a whole bunch of students showing up and actually watching the game. We are trying to adapt to that in our student section and our fans. We will section off a section over there and we want them to have fun, theme and them have their chance. I am looking forward to seeing how they come up with things and support our team. That is the big thing."
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Finely hopes the student section comes up with some team cheers for his Eagles.
"We are in the beginning stages," Finley said. "You look around college football and everything else. Hopefully, they come up with some ideas. We can get with our sound guy and see if we can play some stuff in between timeouts and everything else. If they want to jump a little bit, hey, let's get it rocking."
When Cutter Morning Star upgraded its field to artificial turf, the school also added dynamic lights to the stadium.
"We will not have any lasers or anything like that," Finley said jokingly. "I am really excited. There are a lot of kids that have not experienced that yet. We had a team of 17 last year. It is going to be exciting. Fair warning, if you come to the game, there will be flashing lights. If you have any issues with that after a touchdown and when we run out, we are going to have it. It is pretty cool that we are able to do that. We like to have a little fun over here."
The program is enjoying itself. With this new spark, vocal leaders have emerged.
"Our offensive lineman (senior) Nick Burnett," Finley said. "He is one of our captains. To say that he is the most vocal, there is a lot of them right there behind him. (Senior) Jock Simpson, one of our captains, he is a vocal leader. There are some sophomores that are vocal leaders. The big thing there is we have a team where guys that it does not matter the pecking order of a senior, junior or sophomore, as long as we are all on the same page.
"The one thing I really preach, encourage your teammates. We are not going to get them down because you are going to need them to win a football game. A lot of positive energy is what we try to do here at Cutter. It is catching on. I have got two to three sophomores that they are vocal leaders. They are going to break down huddles at the end at practice and they are talking about energy level on the sidelines. When you have that, it is contagious and man it makes for a great atmosphere for our program."
Corning (1-1) beat the defending state champions Izard County 58-16 last week.
"They beat Izard County from the sanctioned 2A league," Finley said. "It is not the same Izard County team. (Corning) is very physical so give a lot of credit to them. Offensively for us, we are still in that phase of seeing who can play, who cannot, who is going to make catches and run the right routes and get open. We are seeing who is going to be able to run the football."
Cutter Morning Star (1-0) is known for its passing game. However, the running backs scored three combined touchdowns last week in the 52-12 win against Hermitage.
Finley highlighted the depth of his rushing attack.
"The blessed thing that we are blessed with this year is depth," Finley said. "The other night, I think we rotated four running backs. All of them had big gains. They at least had 30 yards a piece. Jock had two rushing touchdowns, Edwin Mancinas had a rushing touchdown and a few more had two-point conversions."
Sophomore Brody Speers is a guy who can change the game for the Eagles tonight.
"He did not play last year, his ninth grade year," Finley said. "He came back out this year and man, he is electric. He is someone we have to get the ball to. He is our special teams guy. He is our fastest kid. He is our most athletic. He has great vision. We are going to look for him to have a big part in our success this year."
Cutter Morning Star is more of a complete team in 2023. Junior quarterback Peyton Mills has more weapons at his disposal this season.
"We are not just a one-target team," Finley said. "I know we had Clayton Weldon last year. He was our main go-to guy. I really feel like we have about six-seven guys that we can go to anytime. They are going to catch the football and do what they can. It is going to be really exciting."