Young Hornets must contend with Redmen experience

Published 12:00 am Thursday, September 25, 2003

It's the veterans vs. the rookies.

The Coal Grove Hornets won't be starting a senior Friday night when they play at Rock Hill against a Redmen team that has as many as 13 seniors in its lineup.

Coal Grove starts two freshmen, six sophomores and six juniors. Head coach Steve Cook is concerned about his young team and Rock Hill's senior-laden lineup.

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'We're in the ball game at halftime every game but one, and then toward the end of the game our kids wear out," Cook said. "Rock Hill has some good athletes and experience. They're strong and quick. I'm worried that they'll just overpower us."

Rock Hill coach Bob McCollister has his own worries. He has often had nightmares about trying to stop the Coal Grove trapping game.

"Anytime you play Coal Grove, you can't let them possess the football the entire game," McCollister said. "I've been in plenty of games with them that you kickoff and then you look up and the first quarter is gone or the first half is gone. They shorten the game. We can't allow that to happen. We have to play great defense."

The game tips off the Ohio Valley Conference schedule for both teams.

Rock Hill is 4-1 and the only loss was 25-14 at Vinton County in a game delayed nearly three hours due to bad weather. Coal Grove is 1-4 and one of its losses was 26-6 to Vinton County.

"We'll have to play well to beat them," Cook said. "The game they played Vinton County wasn't indicative of their abilities."

Coal Grove's defense must contend with Rock Hill's speedy senior tailback James Russell, quarterback Steven Daily and fullback Dan Mullins.

"We've played some pretty good teams and our kids are still working hard and have a good attitude. It'll be a real challenge to contain Russell, and they have a nice quarterback and fullback," Cook said.

"We've face good backs all year like (Chris) Jennings from Fairview and (Donnie) Johnson from Gallipolis. Vinton County and Northwest backs ran hard. Offensively, we've been able to move the ball pretty well except against Gallipolis. Our kids are young, so it's been a challenge to match up with teams who have real good speed."

McCollister is hoping Rock Hill's skilled personnel will make a difference.

"It would help if we get a big play every once in awhile. We have to make them play lefthanded," McCollister said.

Rock Hill won last year's game 28-6 and will be attempting to accomplish something that has happened only once in history: back-to-back wins over Coal Grove. The only other time the Redmen won two straight years was 1974 and 1975.

"This is a rivalry game and emotions get involved. There are all kinds of factors that go into it. You have to bring your 'A' game or you'll be in trouble. We have a great amount of respect for Coal Grove. They have one of the best traditions in southern Ohio," McCollister said.

Coal Grove will be playing without junior tackle Jeremy Holtzapfel who is out for the season with a knee injury.