The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

Sports

October 3, 2013

EHS goes into the Hornets' nest

ENID, Okla. — Enid head football coach Steve Chard enjoys road games, preferring the structure a road trip offers as opposed to distractions that can arise at home. But, that doesn’t mean he is anticipating an easy route for the Plainsmen, who travel to Tulsa tonight for a 7 p.m. kickoff at Booker T. Washington in a District 6A-1 contest.

“It’s unique to go to Booker T. Washington with their band and everything,” Chard said. “There’s a lot of activity and it’s a cool, fun place to play.” That said, Chard cautions it will take Enid’s best effort to defeat the Hornets. “It doesn’t get much tougher than going on the road to Booker T, but we’ll embrace that challenge.”

The Hornets (2-2 overall, 0-1 district) are coming off a hard-fought 42-38 loss to Sand Springs and have been a bit of a paradox to figure out. BTW opened the season with a 24-21 loss to Class 4A Oklahoma City Douglass in the “Turnpike Rivalry” game, before defeating 5A power McAlester 47-45 – rallying from a 38-10 deficit — and romping over 5A Tulsa East Central 51-17 prior to last week’s loss to Sand Springs. The Hornets’ loss to Douglass is a bit more perplexing as Douglass then turned around and lost to Class 2A power Millwod.

But, Chard doesn’t believe you can put too much stock in that.

“It’s a danger … to start comparing scores,” he said. “You see it every week in the NFL and on Saturdays in college. You can’t do that. You just prepare for the team that you’re looking at that week.”

And that team this week has a few weapons the Plainsmen (2-2, 1-0) will need to pay attention to if they are to come out on top tonight in their first district road game.

Typical of the Hornets, they possess team speed that is hard to match overall, and they have a couple of Division 1 college commits on their team. Defensive lineman Brailford Jordan has committed to Oklahoma State and linebacker Kyler Nelson has committed to Miami (Ohio).

The Hornets offensive attack is led by junior quarterback Cordale Grundy, who passed for 167 yards and rushed for another 125 yards last week against Sand Springs.

“He would just as soon have you flush him out of the pocket so he can go to work,” Chard said of Grundy, comparing him in style to Robert Griffin III. “He’s long, a great strider, great player and definitely makes them go.”

The man on the spot for the Plainsmen on defense in stopping, or at least containing Grundy, will be free safety Marshawn Mills who is tied for the team lead with 41 tackles and has two interceptions this season.

“We will need a big game out of Marshawn this week because of some things we are doing with the scheme concerning the quarterback,” Chard said, while declining to get specific about what changes are being made scheme-wise. “He’s a good tackler in space and Grundy is real good in space, so he will have several chances. We wouldn’t put Marshawn in that spot if we didn’t think he could handle it.”

The Plainsmen also will face a familiar tailback in Hornets senior Deonta Owens, who rushed for 119 yards and two touchdowns in last season’s 24-7 Hornets victory.

However, the Hornets have been susceptible to giving up points on defense and the Plainsmen have one of the top tailbacks in the state in junior Raheem Mitchell, whose 583 yards rushing are second in the state in 6A behind Edmond Memorial’s Warren Wand. Mitchell also has shown his ability to hurt teams in the passing game out of the backfield, which could be beneficial for the Plainsmen facing a risk-taking, blitzing defensive squad like the Hornets.

“They take some chances on some of their blitzes and have been susceptible to screens,” Chard said. “Everybody has hit a screen on them. I’m sure they know that, and we have some other things we are working on.”

Precisely half of Mitchell’s team-leading 160 yards receiving came on an 80-yard screen pass that went for a touchdown against Edmond Memorial earlier this season in Enid’s 32-27 win. But, if the Plainsmen are going to have success they are going to have to have a more balanced attack than they had in last week’s 28-23 win over Bartlesville where they rushed for 302 yards, but were only 4-of-12 passing for 37 yards.

Chard said the team would still like to establish Mitchell and Reashaan Finley (who rushed for a season-high 50 yards against Bartlesville) in the run game, but knows an air attack will be important as well.

“We need to throw and catch the ball better than against Bartlesville,” Chard said.

 Last week’s game was the first game in which junior quarterback Frederick Lawrence struggled with his accuracy. For the season, Lawrence has completed 57 percent of his passes and has two touchdowns along with four rushing scores.

Chard believes Lawrence will shake off last week’s performance.  

“Out of 16 quarters, he’s had one or two subpar ones,” Chard said. “He’ll be back fine. I’m not worried about Fred. He’s a confident kid and had a good week (in practice).”

The team hopes to take advantage of Lawrence’s running ability when the opportunity arises.

 “I told him if you get flushed, tuck it down and run over somebody and get your blood pumping and let’s go,” Chard said. “We’re not going to put the brakes on Fred.”

And if Chard has his way, there won’t be many brakes applied by the Plainsmen tonight if they are to keep up with the Hornets.

 “You have to play with your hair on fire like we did against Edmond Memorial,” Chard said.

NOTES: Senior Aaron Beagle, who leads the team in both receptions and interceptions, was back at practice and is expected to start tonight after going out of last week’s game in the first quarter with a sprained ankle … A win tonight would give Enid its first 2-0 start in district play since opening 3-0 in district in 2010 when EHS finished 6-4.

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