The Minford Falcons and the West Senators have wrapped up the early portion of their non-conference play and are prepared to square off Friday night as both teams are looking to secure their first SOC II win of the season.
West (2-3) has struggled throughout the season, most recently losing to the Raceland Rams 29-6 last week. However, the last time the Senators visited Minford, West blocked two punts in route to a 33-14 victory.
“We always want to do something like that on special teams,” Senators head coach Ben Johnson said. “We did block two punts two years ago at their place, which took a competitive, close game and kind of gave us a little bit of a separation there.
“That’s something we always work on, whether it’s blocking punts, returning punts, returning kicks. It’s just something that we feel like is very important. We can go back and document that when we make plays like that, we win games.”
This year, however, Minford (4-1) enters the contest with the momentum as the Falcons are on a four-game winning streak. After dropping a home contest to Rock Hill, 33-14, the Falcons have outscored their opponents 142-56 over the last four contests.
“I think we’ve improved each week,” Falcons head coach Jesse Ruby said. “We’ve gotten a little bit better each week. We’ve cut down on turnovers and major mistakes. I’ve been really happy with our improvement. Our O-line and quarterback play has gotten better each week, and that’s translated into keeping drives alive and making big plays.”
Regardless of past performances or season records, when the Falcons and Senators get together, there are two descriptions that often depict the style of game fans are going to witness — physicality and aggressiveness.
For Minford, Ruby is worried about the physical play West has demonstrated from its offensive line and running backs.
“They look like a very physical team with their offensive line and their running backs are very physical when they run the ball,” Ruby said. “They do somethings in their passing attack that take advantage of normal coverages that you would normally see. They’ve done a really good job of scouting and attacking teams when they run the ball. But my main concern is how physical they are up front and how hard their backs run.”
Ruby cited Derek Carver, Wesley Robinson, Hunter Reed and Josh Berry has potential problems for his squad.
“They have a lot of players who can hurt us,” Ruby said. “I don’t think there is just one guy we can key on. We have to be ready for multiple guys. They spread the ball around. They don’t just rely on one guy. For us to just key on one guy would be detrimental to our game plan.”
For Johnson, he’s concerned with stopping Falcons quarterback Tyler McCormick.
“Everything starts with (McCormick),” Johnaon said. “He’s making decisions on every play. He can hand it off. He can keep it. He can throw it. We are going to have to stay fundamentally sound. Everybody’s got their responsibility and everybody has to do their job.
“They’re putting up a lot of points. They look different under the new coaching staff. They run a lot of spread offense and they’re effective. They make you defend the whole field with run-pass options.”
As far as the keys to the game, Ruby’s solution is a simple one.
“I always tell them that we’ve got to score more points than (our opponent),” Ruby said jokingly. “To score more points than they do, it comes down to the little things. We’ve got to block better than they do. We’ve got to tackle better than they do. We can’t turn the ball over.
“If we do those things, I think we’ll be OK. It’s cliche but that’s been my message every game. I know it sounds terrible but I think the kids have bought into it. They’re playing at a high level right now. I’ve been really happy.”
West and Minford will kickoff at 7 p.m., Friday night.
Minford —Tres Spradlin, torn ACL: Out for the season. Zach Scott, torn Labrum: Out for the season.
West — Dylan Bradford, broken collarbone: Out of the season.