Football: Mercer braces for big, hungry Henry team

October 13, 2004|MARTY WARREN

HARRODSBURG - Henry County's size and experience worries Mercer County coach Duane Hammons as the Scotties prepare to host the Wildcats.

"They are a huge team and didn't lose anybody off last year's team," Hammons said. "I looked at my scouting report from last year and could have used the same report. They have kids that are in the same spots, only they have all gained 20 pounds each."

Henry (6-1, 0-1 Class AA, District 5) played with district favorite Lloyd Memorial for nearly three quarters last week before suffering losing 42-20, its first loss of the season. Mercer (4-4, 1-1) bounced back from a disappointing loss to Newport to beat North Oldham 35-0 last week.

The Wildcats were the only team in the five-team district that failed to make the playoffs last year, and Hammons said they want to beat Mercer Friday to avoid missing out again.


"They are hungry to get back in the thick of things this year," the Mercer coach said. "They have ex-perience and they are confident."

Hammons expects Henry to use its size advantage and run right at the Scotties.

"They are bigger than us, have decent backs and will try to wear us down," Hammons said. "They have some speed and their quarterback (Drew Barnett) likes to sprint out and run with it. Josh Batts runs extremely hard and also plays linebacker on defense. He loves to hit and is also their leading tackler."

Batts, a senior, leads the Wildcats in rushing with 448 yards, while senior Matt Coots has 308 yards. The Wildcats have thrown the ball only 39 times all season.

"The don't throw the ball because they don't have to," Hammons said. "They did throw more last week because they were behind, but they just keep it on the ground and pound it at you for the most part."

The Mercer coach expects Henry to use a four-man defensive front and let its linebackers roam all over the field.

"They will pack everybody in the middle and use their linebackers to find the ball," Hammons said. "They will force us to double-team them up front because they are so big, and that will allow their linebackers to try to take away our outside game."

Hammons has been pleased with the progress of quarterback Jor-dan Lyons. He passed for only 58 yards last week, but was 6-for-8.

"I like our efficiency in our passing game," Hammons added. "His passing allowed our running game to be more effective."

Hammons said he would like nothing more than to use ball control and keep the ball away from Henry's offense, which is averaging almost 30 points.

"We have to be able to control the clock this week," Hammons said. "I will never tell (leading rusher Andrew) McCloud not to get as many yards that he can, but I would love to have some 70- or 80-yard drives so that our defense can rest for a while."

The Mercer defense recorded its first shutout last week since blanking Harrodsburg 34-0 over two years ago.

"Our defensive line of Brandon Sallee, Casey Westerfield, Josh Hardman and Joe Collins pursued the ball as well as they have all year," Hammons said. "Michael Bottoms got his first start at defensive end and did an exceptional job."

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