In Sept. 23 IssueBy Derek AaronTimes Journal Editor
The Lakers traveled to Wayne County (1-3) on Friday night looking to add another "W" in the win column before starting district play this week. If Coach Bill Sharp was looking for a positive final tune-up he found it as visiting Russell County (2-2) throttled the Cardinals 56-27 despite running just a dozen offensive plays in the first half and only 29 for the game.
"If you put 56 points on the board you've done some good things," Sharp said. "But we've still got so many critical areas that we've got to get better at."
He said his squad had improved their kickoff and kickoff coverage portions of their game and he was happy to see that after that being a hindrance to the team early on this season.
"I thought we had made improvements at times defensively but then we would give up a big play just because we weren't focused or in sync," he said. "We've got to get better defensively."
Senior Taylor Hutchison picked off a Cardinal pass on the first Cardinal possession and returned it 35 yards for the score, setting up the theme for the night.
Sharp said while Wayne County was able to move the football in the first half, his team's defense bent but didn't break.
"I think the kids understand that they've got to get better defensively," he said. "They've just got to do what they're coached to and sometimes we're just not doing that."
On the offensive side of the ball, Sharp said he was pleased with the number of points put up but after running just 12 plays from the line of scrimmage in the first half.
"It's really hard to say we executed well offensively when we didn't get but 12 snaps and had penalties on three of those," he said. "We're young, we're making progress and we're getting better."
As the game progressed, the always-tough Cardinals tried to remain in the contest and kept competing in the battle as they tried onside kicks to try and get back in the game.
"Wayne County always plays hard, tough, physical football and there were times they flat whipped us on the line of scrimmage," Sharp said. While that may have been the case, the Lakers were impressive to the casual observer.
Laker sophomore tailback Nick Britt led the team with 118 yards on eight carries with three scores while senior tailback Jeron Hammond rushed five times for 103 yards and two scores while also scoring once on a 59-yard reception.
Senior quarterback Martin Cross completed three of six passes for 78 yards through the air with one score and one interception.
Defensively, sophomore Lucas Whittle recorded eight tackles while Jeron Hammond had seven tackles on the night. Sophomore Barton Mann had five tackles and also added a 40 yard touchdown run on a fumble recovery.
Lakers Evan Fletcher, Logan Smith, Jalen Bennett, Brandon Stinson, Mason Short and Kennedy McFarland all had five tackles on the night.
Lakers Taylor Hutchison and Martin Cross both had interceptions on the night.
Russell County begins district play Friday as they travel to district power Franklin-Simpson for a 7 p.m. matchup.
"We open up with one of the best teams in the district," Sharp said. "We've got to try to compete and make enough plays that will put us in the position to have a chance to win."
Franklin-Simpson is a quick and athletic team who, despite their 1-3 record, will be a tough opponent for the Lakers.
"They're well-coached so we've got to get a good week of practice in, get a good film breakdown, and prepare mentally for us to play well," he said.