Corsicana Daily Sun, Corsicana, Texas

Sports

October 19, 2011

GC Game of the Week: Kerens at Rice

Kerens to face a confident Rice

Corsicana — There’s a little different scenario heading into Friday’s Kerens-Rice showdown. That’s right, showdown.

The Bulldogs come in off a surprising district win over Cayuga. The Bobcats come in off of a rare district loss to defending state champion Mart. Both teams are 1-1 in 8-1A Division I.

Rice and coach David Currey are 3-4, three wins better than last year. Kerens is 3-4, the first time Russell Anderson’s Bobcats have had a losing record this late in the season.

Is this the most confident Rice team the Bobcats have faced in Anderson’s eight seasons, especially coming off of last week’s 21-14 victory over Rice in which the Bulldogs allowed 185 yards?  

“I’d have to say yes,” Anderson said. “Coach Currey has them playing very, very hard.”

For his part, Currey, in his fifth season at Rice, agrees with his rival Golden Circle coach’s assessment.

“This is the most confident group we’ve had coming in (to a Kerens game),” Currey said. “They’re playing really well. We’re a pretty good football team.”

Keep in mind Rice scored on Kerens for the first time during the Currey era last season, and still lost to the Bobcats 30-9.

This appears to be a different Rice team. The Bulldogs have been stingy on defense, allowing 204 yards per game. They’ve been able to run the ball on offense, using the power running of Ragan Henderson to control the clock. Rice is winning the time of possession almost every Friday —the Bulldogs even had the ball five minutes more than Mart in a 28-6 loss.

“Our goals is to hold it for eight minutes four times,” Currey said.  “That’s 32 out of 48 minutes. We’re hoping to win a game 28-27.”

Anderson is hoping his young Bobcats don’t turn the ball over. Kerens has had four turnovers in three losses this season to Edgewood, Malakoff and Mart.

The Bobcats are young. Quarterback Nate Betts is a freshman, and he was bitten by turnovers in the Mart loss. Tailback Rayvon Faulk is a sophomore. The Bobcats count on sophomores at receiver too.

The thing is — there are just three games left on the schedule. Anderson told his team this week that being young doesn’t allow for mistakes anymore.

“The speed of the game is much different from junior varsity and middle school football,” Anderson said. “We have to take care of the ball.”

Rice is of course aware of Kerens’ propensity to turn it over in its losses, so the Bulldogs will be going for the takeaways. Safety Shaquille Fields has been in the middle of several of Rice’s big plays on defense.

“We just have to tackle them well,” Currey said. “We need to force some turnovers. We haven’t intercepted a lot of balls. But we’ve caused some fumbles. When we wrap up we need to try to get in there and get the football.”

This may be Rice’s best chance to beat Kerens. But for Currey, that only means the Bulldogs are just getting better. Kerens is still Kerens.

“They run well,” Currey said. “They’re young. They don’t have the experience they had in the past. I don’t take that away from them. They have good players.”

And in Kerens, this has been a different Rice week. Way different.

“We’re treating this like a playoff game,” Anderson said. “We’re treating it like we’re preparing for a playoff game over here.”

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