Garrard, Casey coaches anticipate another 'intense' game

September 29, 2004|LARRY VAUGHT

LIBERTY - Last year's game ended with the two head coaches exchanging angry words at midfield, but both coaches agree that will have no bearing on Friday's Casey County-Garrard County game here.

Garrard beat Casey 43-28 in last year's emotionally charged game. It was the first time Garrard coach Steve Stonebraker had coached against his former team since leaving Casey in 2002. Garrard quarterback Spencer Crutchfield was also knocked out for the season with a dislocated hip with the Golden Lions ahead by two touchdowns in the final minutes.

"I anticipate an intense game because it is the first (Class AA) district game for both teams," said Stonebraker. "We must be prepared to go in there and play our 'A' game to be successful. I don't think there will be any problems stemming from the situation at the end of last year's game. This is a brand new game and a whole different season."


Casey coach Andy Stephens, an assistant under Stonebraker before taking over as head coach in 2002, doesn't think there will be any carryover from last year's game, either.

"This is a district game that is important to both teams," Stephens said. "We each have a goal of winning the district. That is still our goal no matter where we stand now. To assure that goal, you must win every district game.

"Yes, I do think this game will be intense and will be hard played. But what happened at the end of last year's game is just that, last year. It will have no bearing on how we prepare or play this game."

Quarterbacks will have bigger bearing on the outcome

A much bigger bearing on the outcome will be the play of quarterbacks Kyle Long of Casey and Crutchfield.

Crutchfield led Garrard (4-2) to a 35-34 win at Mercer County last week when he passed for a season-high 211 yards and two touchdowns and rushed for 94 yards and another score. He's rushed for 697 yards and passed for another 646 yards this season.

Zach Doan has added 318 yards rushing and Dan Leavell has 15 catches for 244 yards.

"I think being able to run the ball effectively has taken some of the pressure off Spencer this year," Stephens said. "I still think he is what makes them click, though. I think his ability to create makes everyone around him better. He is a player that has to be accounted for on every snap. He can create by designed runs, passes or passes that lead to scrambles."

Casey (0-5) is averaging just 12.4 points and 288 yards per game. However, Long has accounted for most of that yardage with 561 yards passing and 335 yards rushing.

"He's a very tough runner and has a strong arm," Stonebraker said.

The Garrard coach said Ricky Marrapodi (52 rushes for 289 yards and one score) and Brandon Raney (13 catches for 285 yards and two scores) are both capable offensive weapons.

"You have to be aware of them defensively because of their playmaking potential," Stonebraker said. "We need to be able to limit their big plays and stop their power running game."

Casey focuses on kicking game, reducing turnovers

Stephens said having last week off enabled his team to focus more on its kicking game and reducing turnovers, two problem areas this year. However, he said his team didn't take a 20-12 loss to Lincoln County in its last game as a confidence builder.

"We go into games expecting to win. If we win, then it is a confidence builder," Stephens said. "If we lose, we look at what we need to fix.

"I think we match up fairly good against Garrard's defense. I our offense is improving each week and for the most part, we have been able to move the ball. We have just struggled with turnovers and failing to convert in the red zone (inside the 20-yard line)."

Stonebraker's team is averaging 22.3 points and 319.6 yards per game, but he says Casey's defense can present problems.

"They have some good cover guys and a couple of linemen that can really get after you," Stonebraker said. "They did some really good things against Franklin County to limit their big plays out of their spread offense.

"We just have to make sure we continue to improve, especially in the area of toughness. I do think we have made considerable improvement from where we were at the first part of the season."

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