Preview: James Wood at Strasburg

When: Today, 7:30 p.m.

Where: Strasburg High School

Records: James Wood Colonels (1-2); Strasburg Rams (2-1).

Last week: James Wood lost to Warren County 16-7; Strasburg defeated Riverside 22-8.

Last year: James Wood won 26-23.

Players to watch: James Wood — QB/DB Dade Carroll; RB/DL Isaac Schrantz; TE/LB Noah Sullivan; RB William Crowder; Strasburg — QB/DB Ethan Duckworth; RB/LB Austin Miller; LB/OL Zack Scott; FB/LB/P Josh Pritchett.

Preview: Coming off a big win over Park View the previous week, Mark McHale had high hopes for his squad in last Friday’s clash against Warren County.

Instead, a 16-7 loss left him scratching his head.

While the Colonels’ defense played well, offense and special teams never clicked. Simple things like the center-quarterback exchange, high snaps, a wayward lateral on a kickoff and punting woes turned the contest into a nightmare as Wood spent a majority of the game in the shadow of its own goal line.

"We couldn’t get anything going offensively," said McHale, whose team had just 123 total yards. "The defense played their butts off. The kicking game killed us and the field position was just awful the whole night, but it was our fault."

The poor field position limited the playbook options.

"We were just backed up the whole night," McHale said. "We weren’t able to open up our offense. We had to be real conservative and try not to turn it over. We’d punt it and they’d return it 30 yards every time."

McHale knows his club will have to play better against Strasburg. The Rams have won a pair of games against winless opponents, knocking off Stonewall Jackson 13-12 and Riverside 22-8. Those two teams have been outscored by a combined 180-44 this season.

Fullback Josh Pritchett was huge against Riverside last week, rushing for a career-high 139 yards. Tailback Austin Miller also gained 82 yards in that game.

McHale was impressed by Pritchett, a 5-foot-9, 205-pounder.

"He’s a big fire hydrant back there," McHale said. "They’ll use him to run up in there and they use him to kick out block on their power plays."

Last year, the Colonels won a thriller 26-23 at Kelican Stadium. Quarterback Dade Carroll ran for two scores and threw for another, but the Colonels needed a big stop at the end of the game to turn back the Rams.

McHale expects the two teams to be close again.

"They’re better than Warren County," he said of the Rams. "They’re a lot more sound. I think if we don’t shoot ourselves in the foot we’ll be alright, but we can’t do what we did last week and expect to win. We’re pretty much the same type of kids and the same type of talent level. Whoever turns it over or gets bad penalties at the wrong time, that’s going to be the game."

And the Colonels need this game.

"It’s very important," McHale said. "That was a must-win last week and we didn’t win it. It makes this one even more important. We need need to win it. It’s very important for the players to get their confidence back and to just put a game together."

— Compiled by Walt Moody