Coal Grove must regroup

Published 12:00 am Thursday, September 2, 1999

After opening up the season with a 31-0 loss at Boyd County, the Coal Grove Hornets began putting the past behind and looking toward the future.

Thursday, September 02, 1999

After opening up the season with a 31-0 loss at Boyd County, the Coal Grove Hornets began putting the past behind and looking toward the future.

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That future is a meeting Friday night at long-time rival Gallipolis, and Coal Grove first-year head coach Nick Miller knows the future won’t get any easier than the past.

Brent Saunders is back as the Blue Devils head coach after a one-year hiatus and he guided the team to a 21-6 season-opening win over Meigs last week. Gallipolis was 3-7 last season and lost to the Hornets.

But out of the poor season came a positive: 17 lettermen. The experience advantage is a concern for Miller who has virtually a new offensive backfield, several new linemen including all ends, and defensively a new secondary and interior line.

However, the Hornets did get some good news this week when starting center Phillip Robinson was cleared to play. A starter the past two years, Robinson suffered a slightly fractured wrist that has sidelined him for the past two weeks. His return will enable the Hornets to move Scott Lewis back to tackle.

"We should be much more experienced on the line. This is more like the line we expected before the season," said Miller.

With the offense appearing to be improved, Miller is hopeful the defense will follow suit, especially after last week when the Hornets had trouble stopping Boyd County’s wishbone offense.

"Defensively, we just said we didn’t get it done and we just have to work harder and play better. We’ve worked hard on defense this week," said Miller.

Coal Grove did show some positive signs of its own last week as junior tailback Jason Adams rushed 21 times for 104 yards and had several long runs called back on penalties.

Miller is hoping the timing of the passing game will improve and take some pressure off the running game.

Quarterback Josh Fields made his first start against Boyd County after being a backup end last season. He was only 3-of-8 for 16 yards and two interceptions.

However, Fields ran well on a pair of options and showed some speed and mobility.

"We felt we moved the ball last week. We have to eliminate our turnovers. We have to control some clock and keep it close," said Miller.

Gallipolis is led by senior quarterback Jeremy Payton (6-foot-1, 195 pounds) who has been a three-year starter, and senior running back T. R. Rogers (5-11, 170).

The backfield also has Alex Saunders (6-0, 220) at wingback and Ike Simmons (6-3, 185) is the fullback. Both are lettermen.

Up front the Blue Devils have tight end Jeff Mullins (6-3, 220), tackles T. J. Frasher (6-2, 245) and Jared Pyles (6-2, 275), and guards Jared Bryan (6-0,190) and Aaron Burnett (5-8, 230). The center is Kyle Forgey (6-1, 275).

The split end is David Brodeur (5-10, 155).

"Payton is a real good athlete. He can run, pass, and kick. And Mullins is their best receiver. He’s a good athlete. They usually look to him," said Miller. "T. R. Rogers is a pretty quick kid. He gets most of their carries. Simmons is more of a blocker and does a good job."

Defensively, sophomore Nick Reed (5-6, 155) is the nose guard with Henry Sloan (5-10, 170) or Bobby Woodward (5-11, 195) at one tackle and J. T. Spencer-Howell (6-1, 200) on the other side.

The ends are Simmons and Mike Ward (5-9, 180) while the strength of the defense is at linebacker with Saunders and Bryan. Rogers and Heath Rothgeb (6-0, 160) are the corners. Cody Lane (5-11, 160) and Brodeur are the safeties.