Football - Garrard going to Elizabethtown expecting to win

November 10, 2004|LARRY VAUGHT

LANCASTER - If Garrard County beats 2003 Class AA runner-up Elizabethtown Friday, it might be considered the biggest upset in the second round of the playoffs.

Yet at Garrard (9-2), it would not be considered an upset at all.

"I know that my players believe they can win," Garrard coach Steve Stonebraker said. "They have no reason to be intimidated. We are as good as anybody we will play if we come out and play our game.

"This is definitely a game I think, and our players think, we should win. Would it be an upset? You can point to a lot of things that would take your mind in that direction, but we are going to Elizabethtown for one doggone reason and that is to win. Not to lolly-gag. Not to just be happy to be there. We are going to win. Our kids compete, have heart and never quit. I would not bet against them."


Elizabethtown also hosted Garrard in the second round last year and won 36-0. That loss let the Golden Lions, who rallied to beat Western 31-28 last week, know what to expect Friday.

"We have got to play a physical game. We can't play passive defense because they have a great running game. It's imperative that we enter the game with a fighter's mentality," Stonebraker said.

Elizabethtown also has one of the state's best quarterbacks in senior Chris Todd. He has scholarship offers from numerous Division I schools including Texas Tech, Wake Forest and North Carolina.

This season he's completed 157 of 243 passes for 2,616 yards and 32 touchdowns. He's thrown just four interceptions.

Stonebraker says he's the best pure passer in Kentucky.

"He has worked hard in summer camps the past three years to develop his footwork and throwing technique," the Garrard coach said. "He's very poised in the pocket, makes good decisions and can make a variety of throws."

His top target has been 235-pound tight end Zipp Duncan, who has 36 catches for 412 yards and seven scores. He also has several Division I offers, including ones from Louisville and Kentucky.

A.J. French, a 205-pound senior, has 10 touchdown catches along with one rushing touchdown and is another Division I prospect. Stonebraker says Jonathon Rusher, who has ran for 1,157 yards and 15 scores, is as skilled as Todd, Duncan and French.

"Their running game is definitely better than it was last year," Stonebraker said. "That is their big secret on offense. They use spread sets and run pretty routes, but when push comes to shove, they have put themselves in positions to score with their running game.

"Rusher doesn't get as much publicity as some other guys, but if he wasn't there their production wouldn't be near as good."

Elizabethtown (10-1) has rushed for 1,537 yards and thrown for 2,616 yards this season while averaging 39 points per game. However, the Panthers are allowing just 12 points per game. Elizabethtown has given up just 721 yards passing all season and will test Garrard quarterback Spencer Crutchfield, who has thrown for 1,989 yards and 22 scores and rushed for 1,141 yards and 12 touchdowns.

"Elizabethtown has the best defense in our region," Stonebraker said. "They have tons of speed and get to the ball well. They have one of the best pass defenses in the state. Their offense has the stats and gets the notoriety, but their defense has won them a lot of games this year."

Elizabethtown's best defensive player is 245-pound end Brandon Deadrick. He's ranked as the nation's 21st-best defensive end by and already has official visits set to Alabama, Auburn and Louisville.

"He is being recruited by almost everyone and is the best lineman we have had to play against in the last two years," Stonebraker said. "He may also be their fastest player."

Stonebraker's team fell behind 21-0 two weeks ago when it lost to Corbin in the district title game. Last week it led early, fell behind and then came back to beat Western on a late touchdown pass to Bruce Williams.

"We have got to continue to be patient on offense and take their defense gives us," Stonebraker said. "We have not done that until later in the game the past couple of weeks, and we must do that from the start this week.

"The main thing our kids have to do is come out and play physical. We have got to come out with the mindset that you would take to a street fight. If we do that, we can win."

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