Football preview: Kettle Run at James Wood

Kettle Run at James Wood

When: Today, 7 p.m.

Where: Jerry L. Kelican Stadium, Winchester

Records: Kettle Run Cougars (7-2, 3-2 Northwestern District); James Wood Colonels (2-7, 0-5).

Last game: James Wood lost 24-8 to Handley; Kettle Run beat Liberty 27-26

Last year: Did not play.

Players to watch: Kettle Run — QB Casen Chumley, WR David Haiss, RB/WR Shannon Ferguson; RB Cade Campbell. James Wood — OL/DL Dominic Revetta, OL/DL Luke Roy, QB Carson Hoberg, RB/LB William Crowder.

Preview: Ryan Morgan can hardly believe his first season as James Wood head coach will end with tonight’s clash against Kettle Run.

“It’s gone by extremely fast,” Morgan said. “At the beginning of last week, it hit me that there was only a week-and-a-half left of practice. I’m like, ‘I feel like we barely got started.’ It’s been kind of a whirlwind.”

The season itself has been a whirlwind, too. The Colonels got off to a 2-1 start, but have dropped their last six, including last week’s 24-8 loss at Handley. That contest was scoreless at halftime, before the Judges pulled away. It also marked the second consecutive game that the Colonels’ offense failed to score. Their only touchdowns the past two games came on kickoff returns by William Crowder.

“We really didn’t play bad for any long stretches last week,” Morgan said. “In the first half last week, I thought we played some of our best football of the year. In the second half obviously we made some mistakes, but there were still some good things that happened. We just couldn’t punch the ball in the end zone and we got misaligned a couple of times in their unbalanced sets and that hurt us.

“The kids are playing fairly well at times, but obviously we’re not consistent and we can’t keep together drives,” Morgan added. “We’ll get a stop and get a stop and then we’ll allow a big play. We have to be more focused play-to-play and game-to-game.”

Morgan was encouraged by the play of the Colonels’ offensive line, which had struggled down the stretch. Wood rushed for 124 yards against the Judges.

“Really last week, the offensive line played better than it has in several weeks,” Morgan said. “It’s one of those things where we get the right blocks but we don’t make the right reads or our running back decided to cut back instead of hitting the right hole. It’s a mix of things. ... We have to put it all together.”

The Colonels will have to have everything together to compete against Kettle Run, which is ranked fourth in Region 4C. The Cougars are coming off a bye week following their 27-26 upset of Liberty. In that contest, quarterback Casen Chumley led a second-half comeback from a 26-7 deficit with a pair of touchdown passes. With starting tailback Ridge Scott injured during the game, Cade Campbell took over and rushed for 80 of his 89 yards in the second half and scored the game-winning touchdown.

“Kettle Run is tough,” Morgan said. “They remind me quite a bit of Sherando. They’re not necessarily going to trick you a ton. They have some good-sized offensive linemen. They’re probably not as good at the skill positions [as Sherando] but they run a similar type of offense with a lot of shifts. They’re very disciplined and well-coached. They seem to know what they’re supposed to do without a lot of confusion, missteps or mixed blocks.”

Chumley has an excellent stable of receivers led by David Haiss.

“They catch the ball and they run good routes,” Morgan said. “Their receivers will get off the ball and will make sharp cuts instead of rounding them off.”

James Wood, which has played several young players this season, will have 19 seniors in uniform for their final game. Morgan is looking to build upon the progress he saw against Handley.

“Hopefully we can fix some of the things we started to fix last week,” he said. “We need to get some more consistent play out of our offensive line and we have to be making the right reads at the skill positions as well — to hit holes and find open receivers. That’s what I would like to see.

“We know they’re going to line up and run it right at us. We have make sure we’re being stout and tackling well.”

— Compiled by Walt Moody