Ideally, Boyle County coach Larry French would have preferred to play last week after losing to Lexington Catholic the week before. French said, though, that the week off was a good ting for the Rebels, who were able to heal after playing four ranked teams in their first seven games.
“The way our schedule worked out, the off week probably came at a good time. We were able to rest some people up. If we played last Friday, (running back-linebacker) Zach Hester probably would not have been able to play,” French said.
Class AAAA No. 5 Boyle (4-3, 1-1 District AAAA-5) gets back to action Friday when it hosts district foe Marion County (3-4, 1-1) at Rebel Stadium.
French emphasized fundamentals during the Rebels’ open week.
“We just wanted to make sure we kind of got better in our technique, make sure we’re tackling right and blocking right. And we put in a new wrinkle or two offensively,” French said. “The kids love new plays, and we put in a couple we hope can help us down the stretch and hopefully things will work for us.”
“We worked hard and our intensity was up and we tried to put in a few things we can use down the stretch. The practices have been good and hopefully that will carry over Friday night.”
Marion is coming off a 34-14 loss to Mercer County, a game in which the Titans returned an interception and punt for touchdowns. The Knights did outgain Mercer 303-226 in total yards in their wishbone option offense.
“They’ll run that triple(-option) and run the toss sweep, and they’ll crack back on your linebackers,” French said. “We have to make sure and not let their offense stay on the field, and be sure our defense is tackling and coming off the ball well and wrapping up so our offense is able to get the ball back.”
Marion is averaging 26.8 points and 319 yards per game, with 264 of those yards coming on the ground.
Jeremy Mattingly leads the Knights with 129 carries for 731 yards and eight touchdowns, Austin Turner has 100 carries for 522 yards and four scores, and Cameron Brown has 53 rushes for 193 yards and three touchdowns.
Marion starting quarterback Ryan Peterson was lost to an injury late in the first quarter last week, and the Knights threw only twice in the first three periods. Brown was 2 for 6 passing for 58 yards with an interception.
“Their fullback (Mattingly) runs the ball extremely well and gets a lot of tough yardage. They’ve got good skill people, and they use them pretty effectively,” French said. “Defensively, they break on the ball well and make pretty good contact.”
The Boyle offense will be facing a Marion defense allowing 30.2 points and 308 yards per game, while the Rebels come in averaging 27 points and 299 yards.
Devon Cox has 572 yards rushing with six touchdowns and Hester has 65 carries for 421 yards and five scores. Casey Whittle is 56 of 127 passing for 779 yards and five touchdowns with eight interceptions.
Steven Talbott has 16 receptions for 235 yards and three scores and Lloyd Hall has 12 receptions for 239 yards and a score.
Boyle has faced Class AAAA’s top two teams in Highlands and Lexington Catholic; the No. 2 team in AAAAA, John Hardin; as well as Danville, ranked seventh in AA. The combined record for those teams is 26-3.
It’s a typical Boyle schedule, but the reaming teams on the Rebels’ schedule — Marion, Mercer and Whitley County — are a combined 10-12. French doesn’t think his team will lose focus as the playoffs near.
“Our kids, they just go from week to week and we’re preparing now for Marion County. We’ve forgotten what’s happened in the past and we’re just worrying about what happened in the present,” he said. “Our focus this week is on Marion and hopefully we’ll come in Friday and get the job done.
“I don’t think we’re the type of team that can overlook anybody, and we’ve got to play well every Friday.”