Following their 21-17 win over Calloway County, The Hopkinsville Tigers will look to continue the revenge tour as they face Logan County tonight in the second round of the playoffs.
The Tigers were blindsided in their first meeting against the Cougars, as Logan County pulled out a wildcat formation and ran its way to a 31-7 victory back on Oct. 16.
Hoptown wasn’t ready for the new-look Cougar offense the first time, but head coach Craig Clayton said they won’t be surprised tonight.
“They’re running that now and they’re running some other stuff as well,” he said of the Cougars. “There’s going to be something we haven’t worked against that they’re going to do. We’ve got to be sound everywhere no matter what they do. They won’t catch us off guard like they did the first time.
“They’re throwing with their freshman quarterback. I think if we can put them into situations where they have to pass the ball, it’s definitely to our advantage.”
Clayton said his team has been working on defending the Logan County attack and just hopes to see a better effort from his team this time around.
“(We worked on) Just what we got hurt with the first time and what we can do better offensively,” Clayton said. “I think I’m getting a better feel for our team now. It’s about week seven or eight and that’s usually when we start playing better — my teams. We play a lot of people early in the year and we narrow it down as we go on.
“Defensively, we’ve got to do a much better job than we did last time. I don’t think we played well, we weren’t ready to play and mentally we weren’t very strong either. I think we’re going to be a much better football team than when we went over there the first time.”
One of the big factors in the Tigers’ losses to both Calloway and Logan was turnovers. Hoptown had multiple giveaways in both games. Since those two losses, the Tigers have only turned the ball over one time. While turnovers are a main concern, Clayton said the offense as a whole has stepped up in the last couple of weeks.
“I think the offensive line has been more physical,” Clayton said. “(Jayden) Dillard has been running the ball well — a lot better. We haven’t asked Trey (Jefferson) to throw the ball much.
“The biggest thing is in the last three games, we’ve had one turnover. Against Logan and Calloway, we had nine. Most of it was Trey’s inexperience as a quarterback. … We’re going to take our shots downfield.”
The Tigers are hoping to see Dillard continue his play from a week ago, but Clayton said he also wants to see others run the ball some too.
“I think he’s about a 20 (carry) guy a game,” he said. “When he’s fresh he’s really good. … Ventrial (Baker) ran really well himself. I think Trey can run a little more than he’s run. Emmanuel Cheatham, we haven’t run him as much but he’s capable. (Daisjuan) Mercer’s capable of running some footballs too. We’re going to try to get everybody involved as much as we can. I really like our offensive gameplan this week so we’ll see how it goes.”
There is more than a district title on the line tonight for Hoptown. If the Tigers come away with the win, they will host the third-round matchup. Clayton said the coaching staff has talked about the possibility of hosting a playoff game, but they know they have to win in order to do so.
“We stressed it, but we also stressed that if you don’t win, it doesn’t matter,” Clayton said. “They’re starting to get the importance of it. They’re starting to focus better.
“We don’t have a great leader on our team right now. We have some guys that are trying to step up and be leaders but we have some silly kids on our team as well. We do have some guys that are fighting as well and that’s important.”
The Tigers and Cougars kick off at 7 p.m.