Johnson County is next up on Sullivan South’s schedule, but much of the talk among area football fans is zeroed in on South’s battle against Elizabethton next week.
But South coach Sam Haynie doesn’t expect his players to be among those caught looking too far into the future.
“Our boys have done a good job of taking it week by week,” Haynie said. “We’ve talked about it, but we’ve had a couple good days of practice and I don’t think that will be an issue for us. I hope not anyway.”
Sure, the game against Elizabethton will decide the Three Rivers Conference title and South has yet to give up a point this season against a league opponent.
But on the other hand, nothing gets the Rebels fired up like the prospect of a smashmouth football game. It brought the best out of South last week at Sullivan North, and Haynie hopes the hard-hitting Longhorns draw a similar effort out of his team.
“For some reason, our kids, if they get out there and see it’s going to be a slugfest, they like those kind of games,” Haynie said. “They kind of match other people’s intensity.
“Johnson County’s the same way. They’re very physical and that’s kind of our challenge, to see if we’ll step up to the plate again and match that.”
Much like North, Johnson County prides itself on running the ball behind a rugged offensive line. The Rebels held the Raiders to just 126 yards on 45 carries last week and will need to be just as gritty tonight if they want to corral the Longhorns.
In other action, Volunteer will host Sullivan Central in a battle between two teams looking for their first Big 7 Conference win.
For the Falcons, a win would also be their first of the season. But that doesn’t mean Volunteer hasn’t been getting better.
The Falcons hung tough with Science Hill last Friday night before the Hilltoppers’ speed finally allowed them to pull away late.
“I saw a bunch of young men that played their guts out and believed they had a chance to win,” Volunteer coach Scott Rider said of last week’s game. “We gave them all we could and we hung in there as long as we could. I don’t think the final score last week is a true indication of how well our team played.”
Rider said he expects a battle tonight between two evenly matched teams. As with most close games, he figures it will all come down to a few key plays.
Rider said it will be up to his players to do the little things if they want to break into the win column.
“We’ve got to move the football effectively,” Rider said. “We’ve got to take care of the ball, not have turnovers, and we’ve got to play sound defense.
“They give you a lot of formations with there offense, so we’ve got to be a disciplined team on both sides of the ball.”