Long-time rivals, the Russell Red Devils and the Greenup County Musketeers have spent the past week preparing for a scorching Week 1 non-conference game. Saturday is expected to reach a high of 96 with a heat index of 116. As a result, the game has been pushed back to 8 p.m.
Russell Head Coach T.J. Maynard explained that he does not foresee the heat being a problem for the game. Rather, he said the concern was that the heat may have been a problem for the pregame practice. Pushing the game back by just a half an hour should prevent any heat-related issues and allow players to practice in their pads as they are accustomed to doing.
The Red Devils may have some other issues that could hinder their performance on the field. Maynard explained that the team is not only preparing for a fight against Greenup but are still working every practice to be prepared for the entire season. The Red Devils graduated 22 seniors from last year, leaving the team to do some rebuilding this year.
“We’re a work in progress,” Maynard stated. “We’re very experienced up front, but it takes time for the guys to figure out their role and be ready to do what they have to do each and every Friday night to be ready to play at that level.”
Maynard will be starting quarterback Austin Smith, a junior.
“Smith is very talented,” confirmed Maynard, who added that Smith did get some experience starting last year but still has a lot to learn.
“We are working with him to be the guy game in and game out,” said Maynard.
The Red Devils coaching staff has been working with Smith, teaching him to function more like a point guard, not to try to make every play, and to know when he needs to hand off the ball. Russell’s coaching staff is also focusing on the offensive line that is having some trouble with steps and is still learning technique.
Saturday night, Maynard will be meeting family, friend, and occasionally foe Greenup County Head Coach Scott Grizzle on the field. Grizzle and Maynard are cousins with a love of the sport. Maynard explained that he coached Grizzle during high school. The two also spent four seasons together on Raceland’s coaching staff. Now, they will go head-to-head in what both coaches expect to be a very intense game.
“It’s going to be a battle,” said Grizzle. “Russell has a great program. It’s going to be a very competitive game for both teams.”
Grizzle went on to explain that his team knows exactly what they are up against.
“We know it’s going to be a 48 minute football game that’s going to go down to the last quarter,” said Grizzle.
Grizzle explained that the Musketeers are using the Saturday game day to their advantage.
“We just tried to have a great week of practice,” said Grizzle.
He said he did not bring the team in to practice over the weekend, but they worked hard Thursday night.
The Red Devils and Musketeers will kick off at 8 p.m. Saturday night at Greenup County High School.
Reach Nikki Blankenship at 740-353-3101, ext. 1924.