Mercer knows what it will take to stop Fleming

November 05, 2003|MIKE MARSEE

HARRODSBURG - When Duane Hammons left the Fleming County-Russell game last Friday, he knew where Mercer County was headed for the first round of the Class AA playoffs. And he knew exactly what the Scotties would be up against.

He knew because like his Mercer team, Fleming has a go-to guy who will do the lions' share of the work on offense Friday night. Mercer has its Andrew McCloud; Fleming has its Preston Marshall.

"Both teams are saying, 'This is our guy; we're going get the ball his hands,'" Hammons said.

Hammons said he scouted the Fleming-Russell game because he was virtually certain Mercer would play the loser. And he said he recognized that Marshall's means just as much to the Panthers (7-3, 5-2 District 6) as McCloud does to Mercer.

Like McCloud, Marshall is a junior. Like McCloud, he will have the ball when it matters most.

"You can take away over 50 percent of their offense if you can get this guy out of the ballgame," Hammons said.


But that will be easier said than done. Marshall is officially Fleming's quarterback, but Hammons said the Panthers will use him in a number of ways.

"He is everything. He'll line up at quarterback, running back, wide receiver, wherever they want to get the football," the Mercer coach said. "You've got to be prepared for every scenario where he's at."

Sophomore Jordan Fritz can step in at quarterback when Marshall lines up elsewhere, and Hammons said Fleming has other capable offensive players as well.

"They've got good players, very consistent players," he said.

McCloud finished with 1,553 yards

At Mercer (5-5, 2-2 District 5), McCloud finished the regular season with 1,553 yards - nearly 60 percent of the Scotties' total offense - and 20 touchdowns. Hammons said he'll get plenty of work again Friday as the Scotties try to counter Fleming's swarming defense, which has given up about 12 points per game fewer than last year.

"We're going to get the ball in Andrew's hands," Hammons said. "At this point in the season, you're not going to come out and totally change your offense."

The Scotties had last Friday night off, and Hammons said it was good for them to get some practice time in without having to install a game plan.

"I thought it went pretty well," Hammons said. "We really concentrated a lot on fundamentals. We did a lot of things that a lot of times you don't get to do at this point of the season."

Even though the Scotties didn't have to deal with serious injury problems, Hammons said their open date just before the postseason might make them fresher than most playoff teams.

"I think the kids have really got their legs back under them," he said.

Mercer didn't beat any team with more than three wins during the regular season, while Fleming's wins over 8-2 Estill and 7-3 East Carter secured the No. 2 seed for the Panthers.

While Mercer was idle last week, Fleming was battling Russell for the District 6 title. The Panthers jumped out to a 14-0 lead in the first five minutes and led 21-14 at halftime, but they didn't score in the second half and lost 28-21.

Hammons said the fact that Fleming had a chance to win the district demonstrates how far the program has come under coach Gene Peterson.

"They've done a good job of getting kids out and getting kids ready to play. They dress 50-plus players," Hammons said.

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