Five straight wins have pushed the Henry County High School football team’s record to 5-2 on the season.
Just three Region 7-5A games remain in the regular season starting on Friday with a 7 p.m. contest at West Creek High School in Clarksville. Beating the Coyotes is on top of a checklist of things Patriot head coach James Counce Jr. is looking at as the team prepares to play three more times in` the last four weeks of the regular season.
After this week’s contest at West Creek, Henry County will have a bye week to rest and heal up bruises before hosting Clarksville Northeast Oct. 25 for a Senior Night celebration. The regular season closes Nov. 1 with a trip to Clarksville Northwest.
Repeating as the Region 7-5A champions for the third straight year is on Counce’s checklist and the Patriots have a leg up on the competition there with a 3-0 region record including wins over Dyer County (3-1 in region, 6-1 overall), Kenwood (2-2 in region, 2-5 overall) and Clarksville (1-2, 3-4 overall).
West Creek is 1-2 in the region and sports a 4-3 record overall after last week’s 21-14 triumph over Kenwood. The Coyotes’ two region losses came in a 29-12 decision to Northwest (1-2 in the region and 3-4 overall) and a 54-21 loss to Northeast (1-3 in the region and 1-6 overall).
Counce says West Creek has some talented players and that the Coyotes have moved away from the triple option attack they’ve used in recent seasons to a pass-run game that is more like what the Patriots play. On defense, West Creek is playing an identical base defense as the one the Patriots use.
“Well, obviously, that helps us in preparing to play them,” said Counce. “The big thing is to remember that for us to reach the goals we want to achieve, we have to play consistently every week. We can’t get caught up with how we’ve played in a series with an opponent or what an opponent’s record is. Everyone puts a target on our backs. It will make their season if they could beat us.”
Henry County has won all 10 of the previous games played with West Creek but they haven’t always played well against the Coyotes.
“I can’t remember a time when we’ve went to West Creek and we felt like we played very well. Especially in the first half of games. We are going to need to depend on our seniors to be good leaders and make sure the other players understand that importance of taking care of business the right way. We don’t want to give West Creek an opening to get to feeling good about what they are doing and give them a chance to win the game. We have to be disciplined enough to take care of business.”
COYOTES HAVE SOME TALENT
West Creek’s offensive attack centers around quarterback Tianthony Wagner, runner Yahsir Thomas and receiver Walter Batey. Counce says they have decent size in the lines and good speed.
“They have some guys that can make big plays and they’ve had a little success this year,” Counce said.
He’d like for the Patriots to grab an early lead so he can get to a couple of other points on his checklist like playing a lot of players and letting some other guys come out early to heal some injuries.
“Every team has some bruises and some injuries at this point of the year. We’ve got some guys that we want to watch closely through the rest of the regular season and try to get them completely healthy by playoff time. We are going to continue to attack every week and make sure we win the game, but we are also going to look to take care of our guys and get some of them out early when we can,” said Counce.
He said the Patriots have already been benefiting from extra depth by the development of several players since the start of the regular season. He used sophomore defensive linemen Aiden Harrod and Lewis Hudson as examples of players who have worked hard against the offensive starters in practice and now are seeing playing time on defense.
“That allows us to keep a couple of starting offensive linemen playing just on offense and not having to worry about backup as much on the defensive line. We have a number of guys at tailback, too. In fact, we’ve had so many a guy like Jayden Kendall has been seeing some time at receiver and taking snaps in the Wildcat formation. We’ve also been blessed with enough depth at inside linebacker that some of those guys are playing some on the outside, too,” said Counce.
So while winning every game to ensure another Region 7-5A championship is goal No. 1, getting healthy and adding depth are close No. 2 and No. 3 slots on Counce’s end of season checklist.
It sounds like a solid formula to finish off another big winning football season to me. Go Big Red!
TOMMY PRIDDY is a Paris native who has been sports editor at The Post-Intelligencer since 1985. He can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.