Christian Heritage (0-1) at Murray County (0-1)
Murray County’s quest to end a 19-game losing streak will go on without a valuable member of the Indians’ senior class. Clay Thornbury — a standout two-way lineman and one of just four seniors who has been part of the team the past three years — is out for the remainder of the season.
Thornbury, an offensive guard and defensive tackle, suffered a knee injury in the first quarter of last week’s season-opening 35-9 defeat at Coahulla Creek.
“Clay was our best lineman by far,” Indians coach Chad Brewer said. “It’s so sad because as a senior he had been with the program for four years. He was on every special team. He was in great shape. He is irreplaceable.”
Two players will try to fill the void — senior Seth Gilbert on defense and sophomore Diego Leon on offense.
“We still have to line up and play against a good Christian Heritage team,” Brewer said. “If we come out and play like we did in the second half last week, I can’t ask for any more.”
The Indians, who have struggled to even avoid a running clock in the fourth quarter in recent seasons, were competitive at times against Coahulla Creek, cutting the lead to 21-9 in the fourth quarter.
Lions coach Preston Poag anticipates a much closer clash than last year’s 55-7 waltz past the Indians.
“Chad has them playing hard in his first year there,” Poag said. “We’ll have our hands full. We have to hold onto the ball.”
Five turnovers proved Christian Heritage’s undoing in a season-opening 35-28 setback to Model.
Lions quarterback Trevor Brown threw four touchdown passes — three went to Nich Bartley, who had 10 receptions for 222 yards — in that game.
Coahulla Creek (1-0) at Gordon Lee (1-0)
If the Colts want to win back-to-back games for the first time in two years of varsity football, they’ll have to contain Gordon Lee running back Zack Cobb.
The Trojans senior rushed for 216 yards and two touchdowns on 20 carries in last week’s 33-7 win against Lakeview-Fort Oglethorpe. He also made six tackles from his cornerback spot.
“They ran the ball extremely well,” Coahulla Creek coach Jaren Hamlin said. “They are very physical. Cobb is pretty tough, and it is the same way defensively. They fly around to the ball and are very physical.”
Gordon Lee coach Charles Wiggins said that while his team has had success running the ball in both a scrimmage and the season opener, there is still plenty of room for improvement.
“We basically have four new starters up front,” Wiggins said of his offensive line. “You never know what you are going to get from them this week. They adapted well on the run and gave our backs a chance last week.
“Our deal is fixing ourselves. It is much like an English teacher with a paper. It is a thing that you can always make a little better.”
Coahulla Creek will counter with a running game sparked by Cameron Burton, who had 132 yards on 16 carries against Murray County last week, and quarterback Blaine Williams, who accounted for 180 yards of total offense.
But like most coaches at the beginning of the season, Hamlin saw a lot more things his team didn’t do.
“We have to cut out mental mistakes ... penalties and turnovers,” Hamlin said. “We had two touchdowns called back off of penalties and a couple of other things that held us back. We left a lot of opportunities on the field that we can’t do this week.”