East (2-1) will play Green (1-2) on the “Original Tartan Turf” in Sciotoville on Friday night.
It will be the first home game of the season for the Tartans, who return home this week with an offense that has averaged 35 points per game.
“The community is excited, the boys are excited and the coaches are excited because we’ve got the new grass, the new sod that’s looking good,” East head coach James Gifford said. “Things are getting in place, so we’re really excited about being at home.”
It’s the first SOC game of the season for both schools, who are looking to start conference play off on the right foot.
For Green, the Bobcats seem to be embracing the role of the underdog heading in to this matchup. “We’re definitely the underdog going in, and we’re ok with that,” Green head coach Ted Newsome said. “We’ve talked about it this week, and we’re going to go in and play hard and be competitive on every snap and that’s the approach we’re taking.”
Newsome has introduced a new mentality to his team this week that he hopes will help his team get ready to play the Tartans.
“We’ve had good practices, good tempo,” Newsome said. “We talk about each play is its own game, and you’ve got six seconds to make it happen and play as hard as you can. When that play is over, you can’t worry about it, you got to go back and play your next play.”
The Bobcats will need to get their offense going to give themselves a chance in this contest. Green is averaging just 8.7 points per game this season, and the Bobcats were shutout last week against Reedsville Eastern, 41-0.
“We’ve got to find a way to move the football, we’ve struggled all year doing it,” Newsome said. “We moved the ball well the first game, but after that we’ve struggled the last couple weeks to move the ball.”
Offensively, East has been on the other side of the spectrum early on in the year. The Tartans have been even in the distribution of their offense so far, posting eight passing touchdowns and six rushing touchdowns so far.
The Tartans have gotten a big lift from junior Kyle Flannery, who has four touchdowns so far this season. Flannery has scored twice on the ground and twice with touchdown catches, and has 212 all-purpose yards.
Senior quarterback Brady Douthat has thrown all eight of East’s passing touchdowns this season, and has also added a score on the ground. With the Tartans looking to remain balanced when they have the ball, expect Douthat to use his arm in this game as well.
“I feel like we’ve played pretty physical,” Gifford said about his team thus far. ”Every game, we’ve thrown the ball at least 15 times, so we want to continue that. We want to continue being a well-balanced team that can run or throw.”
When Green has the ball on offense, they will be looking for success out of their wishbone formation. The Bobcats had just seven yards rushing and only four first downs in their last game.
Newsome hopes he can find a way to generate a spark amongst his offense. “We’re going to have to do some things in order to move the football, be creative at times and find some ways to get the ball moving down the field,” Newsome said.
East has been working hard to prepare for the offense in practice. “It’s always tricky to prepare for that because you don’t see it a whole lot so you don’t really prepare for it,” Gifford said on Green’s option attack. “It’s definitely a type of style of offense that you’ve got to be disciplined and get a guy on a guy and make sure you’re doing your job.”
The anticipation of this game has been building in practice all week for Green, as the Bobcats feel better heading in to this game than in year’s past. “We’ve definitely had a better approach this season than the last couple years that we’ve faced East,” Newsome said. “The kids this year are excited to play, and they’re looking forward to Friday night.”
The Tartans might be the favorite on paper, but they aren’t overlooking their foe this week. “We feel pretty confident going in, but we definitely respect them and we definitely want to play our best,” Gifford said. “As long as we play Tartan football, I believe we’ll be alright.”
Reach Benjamin Spicer at (502)264-7318 or on Twitter @BSpicerPDT