By Chuck Reherman, Sports Editor – Southwest Covenant will take to the road for the first time this season as the Patriots take on their second Class B foe.
The Patriots, 1-0, will travel to outside Marlow to take on Central High School. It will be the season opener for the Bronchos.
The teams do have a familiarity with each other. The teams met last year with the Patriots winning handily.
Central does return five starters on offense and four on defense including on the top players in class B, defensive lineman T.J. Birdwell (6-2, 275). Birdwell is a two-way started for the Bronchos.
“Central is a decent team, they do have a lot of size,” Patriot head coach Trey Cloud said. “We have seen a couple films on them from their scrimmages, but you never know about teams like that. They do have one runningback that is really good.
“With this being their first game, it is kind of an advantage for us, there is always the first game jitters and working things out,” he added. “We know they have a lot of their players back and it will be a good challenge for us.”
The Patriots are coming off a 54-20 whipping of Arkoma, another class B team that had been projected to be a good team. Central is picked as one of the top four teams in their district.
“The kids are feeling good after that first win,” Cloud said. “We had a couple of energetic practices so far and I know the players are anticipating us winning. That’s hard, trying to keep up that intensity, especially since our guys know what we did last year.
“But, they have a new runningback, and we will have to work on stopping him and concentrating on being better of defense. If we go out and take care of business, we should be all right.
“Central will run the ball a lot, they like to run the I-formation and will run a lot of speed option,” he added. “They don’t throw the ball a lot. They didn’t in either scrimmage and wee don’t anticipate them to throw it very much.”
Braden Edens (6-3, 200) is a big fullback that can pound the ball inside. Along with Birdwell, Michael Morrow will help anchor the front line and tight end Bradon Martin can both block and catch the ball.
Birdwell will anchor the defense as well, He was named the District B-4 defensive linemen of the year.
But, the Bronchos will have to concentrate on stopping a Patriot offense that has explosiveness.
SWCS did concentrate on running the ball last week and halfback Trevor Kelly had 108 yards rushing. The team ran for 230 yards.
Quarterback Sam Webb only three 11 passes last week and completed four, but three of those went for touchdowns. He finished with 97 yards through the air and 46 yards rushing on six carries. Halfback Nathan Hagan had 62 yards on seven nine carries.
“We are going to try to run the ball again this week,” Cloud said. “We will look to distribute it around and get a good push with the ground game, it will open the passing game. We may throw the ball a little more, Central runs a 3-2 defense where we faced a 4-4 last week, so we should have more success running the ball this week.
“We know with Sam we can throw the ball and we have the players than can go a catch it,” he added. “Bryce (Brown) had two touchdown catches and Trevor caught one. So, we feel we can go into this game with a really balanced offensive attack.”
Defensively, the Patriots did give up 287 yards of offense to Arkoma last week, but a lot of that came in the second half.
Kelly played a key role on defense and was the team’s leading tackler. Hagan scored a touchdown off a blocked punt and the Patriot defense did make some key plays that helped turned the game in their favor.
“We have to stop their run, the option,” Cloud said. “The dive man and quarterback, they are the two we have to stop. We are still missing little (Ben) Webb, we are twice the defense when he is on the field. The secondary coverage and run support.
“It does give some of these other guys a chance to get some experience, but we would rather have him on the field,” he said. “We feel good about this week. We need to go take care of business and move on to the next week.”