MINONK – Over the past eight quarters, Fieldcrest has outscored their opposition 103 to 15.
Friday’s adversary, Ridgeview/Lexington, has dropped their last two games. According to Knights’ head coach Derek Schneeman, his objective is to try to pounce on them early.
“It’s huge especially with the type of offense they run,” he said. “We have to come out with a lot of energy. I expect they (R/L) will come out with a lot of energy. It’s basically a must-win for them now. Like us, they’re doing everything they can to try to get into the playoffs.”
The Knights (3-3) will try to get back over the .500 plateau when R/L (3-3) descends upon Veteran’s Park for a 7 p.m. Heart of Illinois Conference crossover.
The Mustangs’ run defense has been non-existent over the last four, as they have allowed 1,039 yards, an average of nearly 260 per game. They operate out of a 3-5-3 scheme.
Meanwhile, Fieldcrest unveiled a new offensive wrinkle this past week with receivers Jaxon Cusac-McKay (118 yards) and Michael Morse (114) shifting into ballcarriers. All told, Fieldcrest gained a season-best 336 yards on the ground.
According to Schneeman, that trend will continue.
“You’ll see more of it,” he declared Schneeman. “It probably exceeded my expectations. It’s been something we’ve been working on. I’ve been kicking myself because I probably should have went to it earlier.
“Those guys have not had the ball in their hands enough. We’re trying to be as creative as we can. Up until last week, we’ve only been averaging around 100 yards per game rushing. That’s not good enough. We need to be more consistent. I’ve seen what Mike and Jaxon can do running in space in practice. They’re tough to bring down.”
Meanwhile, R/L (3-3) operates out of the double wing-T with a trio of backs in seniors Ryan Benton (just over 300 yards), Josh Hardman (just over 300) and Tate Walcott, who is out for football for the first time since he was a freshman. Their 93 points is second worst in the league.
“A high level of concern,” commented Schneeman of the speed the trio possesses. “They’re fast, there’s no getting around it. The main thing is containment. If they get out to the outside, they’re gone. We have to try to limit their big plays.”
Since the Mustangs do not really enjoy throwing the ball, that’s what the Knights’ defense will try to do.
“It’s one of our goals,” Schneeman said. “With every other wing-T team we face, we just have to get ahead of the chains. We have to be successful on first and second down. If we can do that, we’ll be pretty successful.”
Jake Kennedy is in his third season as coach with a 9-15 record. In 2017, R/L, who was in the large division, went 3-6. Last season, they fell behind 34-0 in a 34-6 home defeat to Fieldcrest. The Knights have captured two of the three games in the all-time series.
Notes: R/L, which is in the fourth season as a co-op, has given up 131 points, which is eighth in the league.