In 2014, the Greenup County Musketeers squeaked out a 15-12 road victory over the Lewis County Lions in the season opener, which propelled Greenup County to a 4-6 regular-season record and a playoff birth.
Greenup County is hoping for a similar result Friday when Lewis County visits Musketeer Stadium to kickoff the 2015 campaign.
“Last year against Lewis County, that was one of the great learning experiences for our team to be able to pull one of the late ones out,” Musketeers head coach Chris Mullins said. “Hopefully we’ll continue to learn from those experiences over the last couple of years and keep winning these late games.”
Over the last three years, the Musketeers have been involved in 11 games decided by one score. However, since 2011, Greenup County has only won seven contests — one coming via forfeit. But after collecting four of those seven wins last season, the Musketeers have reason for optimism.
“For whatever reason, we have a tendency to put ourselves in those situations, which is really just showing the strides of our program,” Mullins said. “That’s really all you can ask of your football team, give yourself a chance in the fourth quarter. All the fans, all the kids, they all want competitive games, nobody wants a blow out on either side.”
The goal for Greenup County is to finish above the .500 mark and host a playoff game. Mullins acknowledged the best way to finish above .500 is to start with a winning record. Like last year, Mullins will count on his defense — who gave up approximately 19 points per game and 12 against the Lions — to stifle Lewis County’s spread attack.
“We were able to get pressure on the quarterback just rushing four guys,” Mullins said. “We probably had five or six sacks in the game last year just rushing four.”
Junior defensive linemen Peyton Ailster and Dylan Craycraft will once again be counted on to wreak havoc in the Lions’ backfield.
“I expect (Ailster and Craycraft) to take care of their run responsibilities and when it’s time to pin their ears back and get after the quarterback, we expect those two guys to definitely step up and get some sacks.”
Offensively, the Musketeers plan on debuting new elements of their spread attack against the Lions.
“We’ve practiced it and had it in our offense the last four years,” Mullins said. “It’s just never been our base offense. I imagine there will be some growing pains but we are just looking to score more points and be more exciting.”
The new attack will feature more screen passes and more deep balls. Greenup County might take one or two shots down the field a game, which are called 50-50 balls, designed to give the receiver a chance to make a play.
The two components needed to feature a deep-passing game is a quarterback with a good arm and a receiver who has top-flight speed. According to Mullins, senior quarterback Jared Hunt has a cannon for an arm and wide receiver Jack Wright has 4.3-4.4 speed.
Mullins is hopeful the new offense will be able to put up more than the 15 points it did against the Lions in last year’s contest.
“Most teams do that once or twice again, throw it up and see what happens,” Mullins said. “We have the means to do it and so we should. I have the feeling we’ll throw it deep as much as we are successful at doing it.”
As far as his game plan entering Friday’s game, Mullins wants to see better execution than he did during their last scrimmage and he wants to eliminate turnovers.
Reach Chris Slone at 740-353-3101, ext 1930, or on Twitter @crslone.