Searching for No. 1

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, October 8, 2003

J.F. Shields and McKenzie's football programs are similar in many ways.

The Panthers (0n6, 0n4) and the Tigers (0n6, 0n4) are both searching for their first win of the season, are limited in numbers, and have very young players on the sidelines.

With those type of similarities this Friday night's Class 1A, Region 1 contest between the two should prove to be a downntonthenwire battle.

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"They're kind of like us," JFSHS Head Coach Phillip Griffin said. "They're awfully young and had a hard season. We've had a rough season too. We're 0n6 and have lost a lot of close games. I've also got a lot of people hurt. It may be whoever can score to win the ballgame because we're banged up big time. I've got seven or eight out right now with injuries. I know they're down in their numbers too. I'm impressed how well some of the young kids play and get after you. They've got a lot of heart and play hard."

McKenzie's firstnyear Head Coach Scott Curd also sees the similarities.

"Looking at them on film, I see a lot of athletic ability out there and a lot of similarities with us," Curd said. "It seems like they've got some young players, but their good athletes on both sides of the ball that can run to the ball pretty good on defense and have the potential to make some plays offensively."

One thing is for certain; one of the two teams will pick up their first win. Unfortunately, the other will remain winless.

Curd said his players will have to get healthy this week in hopes for his team to pick up the win. He also said offensive production is a must.

"We're a little beat up right now," Curd said. "Friday night's game was real physical and we've got a few folks that are banged up that we've got to get well or we're going to be even more short handed than we are right now.

"We've got to make some first downs and play a little offense," Curd added. "We mostly play defense every game because we just have a hard time moving the football. Defensively, we've got to some how force some turnovers and maybe even score."

The Panthers have only scored 35 points all season and the Tigers haven't reached the end zone since week two when they lost to Frisco City 36n19. Curd said.

"We've got to be able to run the football, so our passing game will work," Griffin said. "We've got to be able to move the ball on the ground."

Last week against Coffeeville, Curd said his team played "pretty decent" on defense at times, but was unable to produce much offensively.

"When you start eighth and ninth graders, you've got to grow up a little bit each week," Curd said. "The hardest thing that we're going to have to do about this football team is just wait until some of these kids get older. I want to give those eighth and ninth graders credit because every week they come out and give it all they've got and show a lot of courage. Our upperclassmen are doing a good job of helping them out."

Griffin believes strong defense will be the key in the game.

"I think the team that plays the best defense will win the game," Griffin said. "Defensively, we need to stop them and offensively, we've been off track. I'm down to my third string tailback and my first string quarterback is out. We've been struggling offensively. If our defense can play good and whoever makes the most of the turnovers and has the least amount of penalties I feel like will come out on top."

Establishing a running game is what Griffin believes will make or break his team.

Kickoff is at 7:30 p.m.