Eagles look for playoff advantage

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Pleasant Home will face a Geneva County team that has the nack for running sweep plays around the ends of offense. | File photo

A weight has been lifted off of Pleasant Home head football coach Cody McCain’s shoulders.

And it’s not the fact that his Eagles will be playing Geneva County this Friday night.

McCain just finished his masters thesis, which had to be turned in Monday morning. He said it took almost the past year to complete the 35 objectives for the 110-115-paged paper.

The thesis completion couldn’t have come at a better time for the Eagles, as McCain will try and help lead PHS to secure a home or road berth for the first round of the Class 1A state playoffs.

When asked what GCHS is like, McCain couldn’t help but mention “No. 2,” Ulyssis Green.

“He is about as fast a player as we’ve seen this year,” McCain said. “We’ve got three films on them. He’s one of those home run threats.”

With Green, the Bulldogs run a lot of sweeps on the outside, where they make the big plays, the coach said.

“He’s scored a lot of long touchdowns,” McCain said. “They’re not an offense that grinds it out five or six plays at a time, sort of like we do. They hit those big plays on people. They’ve really had a nice run.”

GCHS fell to 1A powerhouse Brantley last week 60-0, where Green sat out during the game because of an injury. McCain said he expects Green to be back this week.

Brantley quarterback Andrew Lowrey threw for 135 yards and two touchdowns, and Andrew Parker finished with 128 yards on five carries and two touchdowns last week. Two of Parker’s TDs came on punt returns of 60 and 62 yards, respectively.

Containing a team that likes to run the ball around the end will be a tall task for the Eagles as they will try to guide Geneva County’s offense back into a corner in order to have success, McCain said.

“We’ve got to do a better job of setting the corners and making these guys turn back inside,” he said. “I was really disappointed in our defensive performance against Georgiana (the Eagles won 44-33 and overcame a 21-16 half time deficit) the other night and we watched the film and had guys in position. It’s not like we were lined up incorrectly. It’s just that we were not making plays.

“These really good teams (like GCHS) will make you play for it,” he said.

In order to counteract the Bulldogs’ corner attack, the Eagles (4-2, 4-0 in Class 1A, Region 2) will have to rely more on their linebackers to shift from side to side in open space, McCain said.

A couple Pleasant Home’s wins, notably against Florala and Georgiana, were come-from-behind victories.

McCain said starting off slow was a topic of conversation before last week’s game against GHS because so many players were out sick during the week.

“At Wednesday’s (Oct. 3) practice, we only had 21 kids dress,” he said. “We usually practice with about 37 kids. We talked about it. We were really worried we were going to start out slow.

“Georgiana took advantage of it and a couple weeks ago, Florala took advantage of it,” he said. “This is one of those teams that if you fall behind two touchdowns early to them, it’ll be difficult to come back against them. We’ve got to put together a good stop on defense and a good drive on offense in the first quarter.”

Kick off in Hartford is at 7 p.m. on Friday.

Injury update: After all of the initial tests were performed on Pleasant Home’s Carl Whitehurst’s knee on the side line, the doctors were thinking a “tear,” but a later MRI showed the opposite.

“It was a severe sprain,” McCain said. “We’ll ease him back into it this week. We’ve got to have him to be successful.”