North Murray (1-4, 0-2) at Adairsville (3-2, 1-1)
With no Region 5-3A wins so far this season and what look to be tough games over the next two weeks —tonight and next week against visiting Ringgold (4-1, 2-0) — North Murray is in a precarious position when it comes to holding on to any hope of making the state playoffs.
Mountaineers coach David Gann has done the math. He believes his team can work the solution.
“Out of the last six games, we have to win four of them,” he said. “For us to get in the playoffs, we need four or five wins. Our goals are still attainable, and our spirits are still high, so it is just a matter of getting things done.”
In last week’s 38-35 loss to Sonoraville in Chatsworth, North Murray’s young offense came of age as it compiled more than 400 yards, but Gann said his defense still needs to make progress.
“Defensively, we missed a lot of tackles,” he said. “We are over the young team stuff. That isn’t an excuse anymore. Right now, the thing is we have to do the basics — block and tackle.”
The Tigers will greet the Mountaineers with an offense keyed by quarterback Marcus Jones, a 6-foot-1-inch, 200-pound junior. But coach Eric Bishop said the game will be won or lost on the play of his defense.
North Murray’s leading rusher is junior quarterback Hinton McConkey, who has 356 yards on 56 carries, including a pair of touchdowns for the option-favoring Mountaineers. He has also thrown for 695 yards while completing 49 of 95 passes, including eight touchdowns against just one interception. Running back Drake McCowan has added 340 yards on 73 carries, while Payton Swilling has 18 catches for 216 yards and five touchdowns.
“Our biggest problem is trying to adjust to all of the things that North Murray brings at you on offense and defense,” Bishop said. “Monday’s practice was a little chaotic trying to mimic what they do. We broke it down in parts and pieces, but it is a lot for the kids to try and digest.
“You don’t have to watch very much film on them to realize they are right on the edge of putting it all together. The kids know that they are capable of beating us. We realize the potential that coach Gann’s team has.”