Meridian Star


October 4, 2012

Around Lauderdale County: Warriors, Eagles matching similar styles

MERIDIAN —     At the end of a five-hour plus bus trip Friday night, Russell Christian Academy will basically be looking in a mirror when it matches up against host Marvell (Ark.) Academy.

    The Warriors and Eagles each rely on a single-wing offense that rides a strong ground game. And both teams have been very successful as Russell enters 7-0 and second in the MAIS 8-Man District 1 race with a 4-0 division mark. The Eagles are right behind at 5-1 overall and 3-1 in the division.

    “They are just some pretty good football players and have good size on the lines and pretty decent running backs,” Russell coach Nate Ballard said. “They run sweeps similar to ours and traps similar to ours, but they are much improved. They have a good sized offensive line that likes to push people around and their backs don't have what I call game-breaking speed but they get the job done.”

    That similar style has come in handy during practice. Rather than working against an opponents' offense, the Warriors have just had extra time running their own sets. That has led to additional reps for second-string players and should mean execution is even more paramount Friday.

    “I think the biggest thing is how we handle the trip and the travel,” Ballard added. “We're treating it as a business trip. We have to be focused and stop the run and execute well on offense. But the biggest thing will be that long trip.”

    While handling a long bus ride is the next challenge in front of the Warriors, they have certainly handled everything else they've faced. After earning their first winning record and playoff berth a year ago, the Warriors have continued to build. Last week's 45-0 win against Central Academy set a new school record for wins and Russell has its sights set on more.

    “I think we've handled it because we weren't happy with how last year finished,” Ballard said. “We were happy we made the playoffs and had a winning season but we feel we could have done more. I think our kids, our parents and our fanbase came back hungry.

    “I think we've handled it so well because we expected it.”

    — Jamie Wachter

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