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Focus will be on Dunn and Delk Friday

August 27, 2003|JILL ERWIN

HARRODSBURG - Casey County and Harrodsburg feel they could win without their star running back, but coaches Andy Stephens and Terry Yeast are glad they probably won't have to worry about trying.

Rex Delk of Casey and Mark Dunn of Harrodsburg will be the marquee names in Friday night's matchup here, having combined for 518 yards and eight touchdowns in wins last week.

Dunn returned with a vengeance after missing most of his junior year with injuries. Dunn rushed for 342 yards and five scores against Western Hills. Delk went for 176 yards and three touchdowns against Harrison County in Casey's opening win.

But don't make the mistake of thinking the two teams are one-dimensional.

"Mark did go down (with an injury) in our second scrimage, and the kids didn't miss a beat that day," Yeast said. "It was good for us to not have him because we felt we could experience success without him, but just having him there makes the kids feel even better. All he's talking about is what he missed, and he's trying to doubly make it up this year."

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"When teams would look at us last year, they felt like if they took away Rex, they could probably beat us," Stephens said. "That was probably the case at times. But we're more rounded this year and we've focused on that. (Receiver) Blake (McGinnis) is a threat, and Brandon Raney will be a threat when we can get him the ball."

Yeast said his team is still focused on stopping Delk. That doesn't mean Harrodsburg isn't preparing for other options. It just means the Pioneers are going to try to do what they can to make sure Delk is grounded.

"We just really need to get back to basics," Yeast said. "That's making sure kids are doing their individual responsibility. We have to get all 11 to the football because I don't know if one can tackle him."

McGinnis is the biggest all-around threat. The senior returned a kickoff 99 yards for a touchdown last week and also caught five passes for 89 yards.

Yeast said eliminating his big gains on returns will be key for the Pioneers' chances of winning.

"We really have focused a lot on staying in our lanes on kickoffs and punt returns," Yeast said. "They do such a good job with their special teams. McGinnis has great speed, so we've been preaching staying in our lanes. If we don't do that, he'll be off to the races."

Stephens also knows he has his hands full trying to slow down Harrodsburg. The Pioneers are always athletic, have a two-man quarterback combo in junior Mariqus Brown and freshman Freeman Edwards, and still feature Dunn.

"I felt like we were pretty effective against the run last week, but we didn't face Mark Dunn last week," Stephens said. "We're going to commit a lot of guys to stopping the run and try to get upfield and disrupt the flow. We have a little more depth up front, and we're going to see if we can take advantage of that."

Yeast said the Pioneers will have to do better than the 27 yards passing they amassed last week to beat Casey.

"We have to be able to throw the ball," Yeast said. "People will put everybody in the box to try to stop our running game. If we're effective throwing the ball, then we'll have an opportunity to win."

Stephens said he's concerned about his team's ability to break too many big plays because Harrodsburg's speed allows it to recover quickly on missed plays.

"I think that's where their advantage is a little bit," Stephens said. "But to be honest, a lot of people are going to be surprised by how quick we are. Last year, if someone broke a long run, we had trouble running them down. Now we've got two, three, four kids capable of running people down.

"It's hard to break off a big run on them. They have so much speed in their secondary and their linebackers and on the defensive line, too. We have to make sure we maintain our blocks and work downfield for some blocks."

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