Preview - James Wood at Hedgesville, W.Va.
When: Today, 7 p.m.
Where: Hedgesville High School
Records: James Wood Colonels (1-3), Hedgesville Eagles
Last week: James Wood lost to Strasburg 35-14; Hedgesville lost to Jefferson 40-34
Last year: James Wood won 28-0.
Players to watch: James Wood — QB/DB Dade Carroll; RB/DL Isaac Schrantz; TE/LB Noah Sullivan; RB/DB Keegan DeHaven; RB William Crowder; Hedgesville — QB Jason Plotner; WR Taylor Hoeltje; RB/LB Gavin Smoot; RB Tayveance Foster.
Preview: Numbers don’t often lie, but James Wood coach Mark McHale saw several in favor of the Colonels last week, yet they were never in the game in a 35-14 loss to Strasburg.
"We looked at the stats and we led in rushing, first downs and time of possession, but we gave up big plays on defense," McHale explained. "Our pass defense was not real good last week and we’ve got to get that straightened out. And, we turned the ball over. When you do those kind of combinations, you’re going to lose."
The Colonels’ defense had been solid through the start of the season, but gave up 190 yards and three touchdowns through the air against the Rams.
"They were a run team, but they said after the game that they didn’t think they could run on us," McHale said of the Rams. "They came out empty and spread and throwing it up and down the field on us. They surprised us."
But McHale said the statistic that hurt the most was turnovers. The Colonels lost the ball on two interceptions and a fumble.
"Turnovers killed us. That was the big thing," McHale said. "We have to eliminate turnovers if we’re going to win games. We don’t have that manpower to make up if we get behind. We’ve got to keep the game close for us to have a chance to win games."
Hedgesville, which suffered through a 1-9 mark last year, already has more wins than that under new head coach Joey Yurish.
The Eagles are scoring at a high clip with 28 or more points in three games. Last fall, they failed to score more than seven points in eight games.
McHale is worried about the Hedgesville passing attack. Last week, quarterback Jason Plotner threw for 216 yards in the second half as the Eagles rallied in a loss to Jefferson. Taylor Hoeltje caught two TD passes.
"They’ll throw it deep and they’ll throw it often," McHale said. "We’ve been working hard on that this week."
McHale would like to see the Colonels get going on the ground, which would open passing options for Dade Carroll. The senior has been staying after practice to work with his receivers.
"We’re hoping we can get our running game in gear and take the pressure off of Dade and not have to throw when everybody knows you’re going to throw," McHale said. "If we keep it balanced, we will be fine."
McHale expects a tough fight against Hedgesville, which fell 28-0 to the Colonels last season.
"They are a better team than they were last year," he said. "Most people were beating them pretty bad last year. They’ve improved their program."
— Compiled by Walt Moody