Strength an edge for Casey

November 05, 2003|JILL ERWIN

LIBERTY - Casey County coach Andy Stephens feels good about his team's chances going into its Class AA first-round Class playoff game in Louisville against Western.

The Rebels (4-6) have won their last three games, and Stephens said he thinks Casey has all kinds of advantages over Western (8-2).

"I think our advantage is going to be on the physical side," Stephens said. "They're not used to playing teams that are really, really physical. Nobody in their district plays like that. It's all speed teams, finesse teams. I think our strength is going to be an advantage.

"We've played a tough schedule and I think that's really going to help us. If you look at schedule strength, ours is considerably stronger than theirs. We've played teams that are physical, we've played teams that are finesse, we've played about every mix of team you can play.I don't think they've lined up against a team that's just going to try to smash it down their throat."


Casey may have its hands full if it tries to smash the ball down Western's "throat" because the Warriors average 240 pounds across their defensive front. Stephens said the key will be for Casey to have more long drives like the eight-minute one last week.

"That's something we've been really trying to do a lot and we had two or three nice drives last week," Stephens said. "Their defense is really quick. It's going to be difficult for us to break off anything long. We have to make sure we sustain blocks and hit the holes quick."

Offensively, the Warriors are even bigger, with a couple of 300-pounders, including 360-pound senior Gary Johnson. Behind that line is a dangerously quick set of skill players, such as 188-pound running back Corey Goodson and 245-pound back Robert Martin.

Junior Rayshad Harrison is the quarterback and has two good targets in Tyson Harbin and Demontre Cherry.

Western has "ability to break off big, long plays"

"The biggest problem they present is the speed they have on the outside and their ability to break off big, long plays," Stephens said. "That's kind of what they play for. They run plays just so they'll break off that one big one every four or five plays. That's how they beat DeSales and that's how they beat Louisville Moore. They're going to beat you with their athletic ability and speed."

Stephens hopes to be able to take advantage of the speed his team has by utilizing senior Blake McGinnis as much as possible. McGinnis has been sharing quarterback duties with junior Josh Swango, but has also lined up at other positions.

Swango took the majority of the snaps last week, but Stephens said it comes down to trying to get something started with McGinnis.

"Our best-case scenario is to use them both a little bit and then put Blake in spots where we can get him the ball," Stephens said. "We've been averaging about 400 yards a game the last four games offensively, and that's where we need to be."

This is the first time Casey has been a No. 3 seed in the playoffs and Stephens said the Rebels could react one of two ways - they could use that as motivation to try to play better and prove they deserve it, or they could rest on their laurels after reaching a new mark.

"That's the very thing we talked about at practice," Stephens said. "We can't be satisfied with where we're at right now. We think we're a lot better football team than 4-6.

"They feel like they accomplished something, but I still think they feel like they need to prove themselves, especially the seniors. They're not at all satisfied with where they're at. They've done a nice job stepping up and trying to get guys motivated. I think they're becoming good leaders."

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