Pioneers, Scotties know what's coming

September 01, 2004|MIKE MARSEE

HARRODSBURG - Like a pair of runaway trains, what's headed for Harrodsburg and Mercer County will be coming in a hurry.

While the two coaches in this crosstown rivalry know what's coming at them, they aren't quite sure how to slow those speeding locomotives down.

Mercer will run a powerful, experienced back at Harrodsburg as often as possible Friday night. Harrodsburg will send its two young sprinters toward the Mercer defense as long as it can get away with it.

"No one's trying to hide anything about what they're going to do," Harrodsburg coach Terry Yeast said.

The Harrodsburg-Mercer series has almost always been defined by the contrast between the Pioneers' speed and the Scotties' strength. But this year it's speed vs. speed.


"This is one of the best teams Mercer's had," Yeast said. "They have great size, but one thing they have this year more than I've ever known is speed, and I'm talking about team speed."

Mercer coach Duane Hammons said his Scotties still can't match Harrodsburg's speed.

"They're going to put it in their two backs' hands, and they're just fast, fast, fast, and we've got to try to slow them down," Hammons said. "I've not seen Harrodsburg loaded with that much speed in five years. They've got linemen faster than my backs."

At the heart of a game that could turn into a track meet is the matchup of running backs between Mercer senior Andrew McCloud and Harrodsburg sophomores Brandon Ford and Cory Jackson.

McCloud, who became Mercer's all-time rushing leader two weeks ago, has 358 yards and five touchdowns this season. He had only 90 yards in a loss at Wayne County last week, but Yeast said Harrodsburg doesn't have what Wayne used to stop him.

"They just had a lot of size, so they were able to match up with them," Yeast said.

At Harrodsburg, Ford also has 358 yards and five touchdowns, and Cory Jackson has another 174 yards.

"If they were one running back, you could pretty much key on him like they're going to do with Andrew," Hammons said. "But they can fake one and counter the other. They look alike, they're built alike and they run alike. You've really got to stay at home."

Loss to Wayne was a surprise

Mercer's lopsided loss to Wayne in its home opener came as a surprise to many, including Hammons.

"But I would much rather have a loss early than a loss late," he said. "We got to see what happened to us, and now we'll try to fix some things."

Yeast said he was surprised when he heard the score, too.

"But it doesn't make me think any different about the type of team they have," he said.

Mercer might be motivated by its 48-12 loss at Harrodsburg last year - the home team has won the last five games in this series, which Harrodsburg leads 25-12-1. Yeast said last week's loss will make them even hungrier.

The Pioneers, meanwhile, are upbeat after winning their first two games.

"Our kids are feeling pretty good right now," Yeast said. "But we've still got some things we need to work on, things we've got to correct in order to be successful this week."

One is turnovers. Harrodsburg had four last week at Casey County, including three interceptions thrown by quarterback Freeman Edwards.

Hammons said Mercer must put forth the effort he didn't see against Wayne.

"They gave a little extra effort and just outplayed us," he said.

If Mercer has an edge against Harrodsburg, it is the luxury of depth.

"They're rotating 10 or 12 linemen, and we're playing the same five kids," Yeast said.

Hammons said that won't matter much in this game.

"When you play Harrodsburg-Mercer, does anybody ever get tired?" he asked. "Are you going to be able to drag one of their kids off? No. They aren't going to take a break in our game."

Central Kentucky News Articles