With the limited resources that come along with semi-pro football, it can be difficult to scout upcoming opponents. Having not played the Cincinnati Blue Devils (6-4) this season, and with little more than a single game of film to work with, the Kentucky Warriors don’t know much about their first-round playoff opponent.
“I don’t know a whole lot about them. They seem like a really athletic team,” Warrior’s coach Jamie Rice said. “Not a huge team, not big, but athletic.”
No matter what type of team the Blue Devils are, they will travel to Spartan Stadium for the first round of the National Frontier Football League playoffs on Saturday night. With their season on the line and very little material to work with, the Warriors simply plan on doing what they do best: run the football.
“We’re going to run the ball and run some play action,” Rice said. “We’re just going to see how they play through the game.”
Though it will be difficult to predict how the Blue Devils will line up defensively against the Warriors’ unique pistol-style offense, Rice is confident that the ground game will be the key to a victory. That, and making sure the offense takes good care of the football.
“Our goal is zero. Zero turnovers,” Rice said.
Defensively, the Blue Devils will look to stretch the field with a spread offense. The Warriors’ defense will need to find a way to stop the Blue Devils’ dual-threat quarterback, who can get it done with either his arm or his legs.
“They have a running quarterback. Looks like he has a pretty good arm, looks like he can throw,” Rice said. “They seem to be a pretty athletic team … They’re just a really solid team all around.”
Though the Warriors are heavy favorites heading in to Saturday’s game, they won’t be looking past the Blue Devils. Trying to get back to the NFFL Championship game for the second year in a row, Kentucky knows all too well that just a few broken plays can end a season.
“(The team) is going to get up no matter who they play,” Rice said. “They’re not going to take (the Blue Devils) lightly. Just because we’re 9-1 doesn’t mean they’re going to give us a win.”
While the majority of the Warriors have ample playoff experience, a few key contributors will be experiencing the postseason for the first time. Running backs Jontez Jones and Luke Brown as well as receiver Michael Weber will take their first career snaps in the postseason on Saturday. A former player and second-year coach, Rice knows exactly how his Warrior rookies will be feeling.
“It’s tough,” Rice said. “I’m sure they’ll be a little nervous at first, but once the game gets going, I’m sure those guys won’t have any trouble at all.”
Kickoff is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. Saturday at Spartan Stadium.
Alex Hider can be reached at (740) 353-3101 ext. 1931 or on Twitter @PDTSportsWriter