James Wood football makes adjustment to Pulaski

It’s not the way James Wood drew it up, but a football game is a football game.
The Colonels (1-0) will make a 220-mile trip to play Pulaski County (2-0), a fellow Class 4 school, at 7 p.m. today in a game that wasn’t scheduled until Wednesday.
COVID-19 has resulted in numerous sports cancellations around the state this year, and the originally scheduled James Wood at Skyline contest is one of the victims this week. The Hawks had to cancel due to COVID issues in their program. Pulaski started the week with a different opponent as well — the Cougars were supposed to play West Virginia’s Bluefield.
Though it’s short preparation, James Wood was looking at two straight weeks without a game if it couldn’t secure one this week. The Colonels had their bye week in Week 2 after beating Sherando 34-20 on Aug. 27.
The James Wood and Pulaski coaching staffs exchanged game film on Wednesday morning, helping get the process started for a jam-packed three days.
“There are some additional logistical things with a four-hour trip — how early we leave, when we eat, when we stop to stretch our legs,” said Colonels coach Ryan Morgan on Wednesday afternoon. “There’s a lot of additional stuff to run in there that the coaching staff has to take care of, which draws us a little way from the X’s and O’s and personnel and game film.
“It’s a challenge, but we want to play 10 games. We’ll do what we have to do.”
Prior to concentrating on Pulaski, Morgan said James Wood focused on doing things at a quicker pace.
“We worked on operations of the game as far as getting lined up quicker, getting the calls quicker, getting personnel changes done quicker,” Morgan said. “That was one thing that we struggled with against Sherando. We had a delay of game penalty, and that’s one thing we haven’t had many of the last few years. We’re usually pretty crisp.”
This will be the first time the Colonels have ever played Pulaski County, a strong program from the River Ridge District in Region 4D. The Cougars have recorded six straight winning seasons and since 2011 have only failed once to qualify for the playoffs. The 2018 and 2019 teams each won a playoff game.
Morgan said the Cougars run one running back and one tight end and usually operate out of the pistol. Morgan said they’ll also go with power formations and run-pass options.
Pulaski — which beat Jefferson Forest 49-16 last week — is led by John Lyman and Keyontae Kennedy, who can both be moved between the positions of running back and receiver. In a 20-17 win against Northside to open the season, Kennedy had 14 carries for 97 yards and Lyman had six catches for 94 yards and five carries for 32 yards and a TD.
“[Lyman] might be the quickest running back we see this year,” Morgan said. “He broke off a couple runs in their games. He has pretty good balance. Tackling him and making sure we don’t lose outside contain is going to be huge. If he gets on the edge, we’re going to have a hard time tracking him down.”
Against Northside, quarterback Cam Cooper completed 9 of 14 passes for 201 yards, two touchdowns and an interception.
“He can run a little bit and has a decent arm,” Morgan said. “He does a good job with their RPO slants, especially the inside throws.
“We’ll have to disciplined on the back end because of some of the RPOs that they run. If we bite up on the run, they can beat us over the top.”
James Wood will attack Pulaski with an offense led by Jaden Ashby (178 rushing and receiving yards vs. Sherando, four TDs), Wes Brondos (29 carries, 210 yards, TD) and Jared Neal (7 of 11 for 135 yards, TD).
Morgan said the Cougars run a 3-4 defense and play a lot of Cover 0 man coverage.
“They’re pretty aggressive and put a lot of people in the box,” said Morgan, who notes that the outside linebackers will come up to the line of scrimmage. “At least from what I’ve seen, they challenge teams to beat them throwing the ball. [Lyman] plays cornerback, too, and he had a couple of interceptions last week. They’re going to be tough to handle up front, and we’ve got to bring our ‘A’ game with the offensive line.”
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