Playoff pressure not on Garrard

November 05, 2003|LARRY VAUGHT

LANCASTER - Steve Stonebraker knows almost everyone expects either Corbin or Elizabethtown, two district champions, to win the Class AA, Region 2 championship.

"I don't think we should feel any playoff pressure at all," said the Garrard County coach. "Nobody outside of our locker room expects us to win the region. Corbin and Elizabethtown have to deal with that type of pressure. We just have to focus on continued improvement.

"But I do want us to begin developing a good playoff mentality right now, and I expect us to win every game."

That won't change Friday when Garrard (8-2) hosts DeSales in a Class AA first-round playoff game. However, Stonebraker knows the Golden Lions will have to play well to beat the opponent from Louisville.


"They only have seven seniors, but young role players have been the key to them winning four out of their last five games," Stonebraker said.

DeSales running back Kevin Cocanougher has rushed for over 1,300 yards and 19 touchdowns out of DeSales' wing-T offense. Keith Belt plays both wide receiver and quarterback and is the team's fastest player. Lineman Anthony Bradford also impressed Stonebraker.

"They do a good job running their offense," Stonebraker said. "Cocanougher is the key to their offense, and he's also a very athletic cornerback. He had an 86-yard kickoff return against LaRue County.

"Belt is very versatile. They will try to get him the ball at wide receiver and they'll use him at quarterback to run their option game."

Garrard's offense has improved

Garrard's offense has improved since backup Bruce Williams had to take over at quarterback when Spencer Crutchfield went down with a season-ending hip injury in early October. Crutchfield had rushed for 857 yards and thrown for 1,177 when he was hurt.

"Bruce is doing an excellent job now of reading his keys and looking off of defenders in certain circumstances," Stonebraker said. "He does a great job in the pocket of being patient and letting some of the deeper routes open up.

"Our red zone execution (inside the 20-yard line) has got to be better. We must be able to take advantage of our scoring opportunities. This has been a season long issue."

Garrard missed two early scoring chances in last week's district showdown with Corbin and eventually lost 37-6 despite having its best offensive performance since Crutchfield went down.

"Our receivers made some tough catches last week, and that trend has to continue," the Garrard coach said. "We have to be productive in fighting for jump balls on passes."

Williams has completed 30 of 60 passes for 344 yards and one touchdown. Jake Cool has 37 receptions for 434 yards and four scores and Chris Clark 33 catches for 433 yards and three scores. Tight end Brandon Sebastian has 14 catches for 272 yards. Tim Quisenberry is the team's top rusher with 531 yards and eight scores.

Stonebraker's defense has been solid most of the season and will need to be again Friday for Garrard to advance to a second-round playoff game against the Elizabethtown-Wayne County winner.

"In order to win this game, we need to be disciplined defensively," Stonebrarker said. "We have not faced a wing-T team all season. We must be able to recognize their formations, personnel groupings and motion keys. If we can do that and fly to the ball, we increase our chances for success.

"We've got to start doing a better job of flying to the ball and securing tackles. We must improve that now in order to be a good enough team to advance in the playoffs."

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