Updated Thu, Oct 10, 2013 4:19 pm
After falling to Sheridan and slipping from the top of the MVL standings, the Maysville Panthers (5-1, 4-1 MVL) will look to regroup, as they welcome the winless Morgan Raiders (0-6, 0-4 MVL) on Friday night.
Sheridan’s stout defense edged the Panther offense last week, but a matchup with the Morgan defense might be just what the doctor ordered for the Maysville offense. The Panthers averaged 44.8 points per game against their first five opponents, but the Generals were able to hold them to just 17 points while forcing crucial turnovers in the process. This week, Maysville faces the league’s second worst defense, as Morgan has surrendered 52 points per game against MVL opponents this season.
Gridiron Glory Player of the Year candidates Jordan Hayes and C.J. Harris are braced for breakout performances, as they were held to just 29 combined yards against Sheridan. Running backs have had success against the Morgan defense so far this year, including a 105-yard, four-touchdown performance from John Glenn’s Blake Atkins last week.
In a conference stacked with talented backs, Morgan coach Nate Smith knows the importance of halting Maysville’s powerful rushing attack.
“Sheridan was able to hold them,” Smith said “They have some speed and size and we have to concentrate on attacking and learning from what Sheridan did well.”
While Morgan’s defense has had its difficulties, the offense might be an even larger issue. The Raiders have scored an MVL-worst 21 combined total points in their first four conference game, an area where Smith sees many aspects to improve, but thinks that speed can help his offense greatly.
“We’ve got to get off the ball,” Smith said. “That’s not just the offensive line, but that includes the backs as well. We need to be quicker.”
The Raiders haven’t won a game since Oct. 12 of last season, but they don’t count themselves out of climbing back into MVL contention. The comeback would shock many, but Morgan is focused on taking its first step with a win over the Panthers on Friday.
“Our biggest nemeses has been the big play,” Smith said. “We’ve been in games that we give up big plays and our confidence drops. We’ve got to do what we can to stay in it and keep our confidence up.”
Look for the Raiders to get off to a fast start and sneak up on the Panthers, as they kick off from Zanesville on Friday at 7:30 p.m.