(Photo by Tim Jaynes, Staff)
CHARLESTON--It's playoff time again in Charleston, but as the Bluejays prepare for battle this week, it will be under the lights of the football field, not on the hard wood in the gym.
After starting the season on a slower note than head coach Dan Kesselring probably would've liked, the Bluejays have come on strong when it was necessary, taking the district title and heading right into the post-season.
"Against Crystal City, we've got to cut the penalties," Kesselring said. "We've got to work as a team (to win)."
Charleston comes in with a record of 4-6, winning their last three in a row to secure their spot in the playoffs.
Junior quarterback Chase McClendon leads the way for the Bluejays, coming into Wednesday's action with 937 yards passing, going 44-for-104 with 11 interceptions. He has eight touchdowns. In last week's game against Caruthersville, McClendon had 15 carries for 170 yards.
Behind McClendon in the yardage department, is fellow junior Jerquawn Sherrell, who comes in with 696 yards on 125 carries.
Senior Marquez Ware also has 125 carries, compiling 519 yards on the ground.
Leading the receiving core for the Bluejays is senior Alan Hemphill, who has 13 catches for 375 yards and six touchdowns, while senior classmate Matt Medlock adds 269 yards on 18 catches.
Last week in the win over Caruthersville, the Bluejays rushed for 377 yards.
"The Crystal City defense will be tough," Kesselring said. "They play a 4-4, 4-3 look, with some 6-2 at times. They try to get their linebackers involved in the game, and they play well downhill."
The Crystal City Hornets, 9-1, are coming off of a shutout win, 43-0 over Grandview (0-10), and have won their last three games by a combined score of 78-14. Overall on the season, they have outscored their opponents 255-100, with five shutout wins on the season to date.
Quarterbacks Ian Defries and Logan Jett have combined for 17-for-61 passing, with 276 yards, three touchdowns and eight interceptions, with Defries completing 244 yards of the total and two touchdowns. He also has eight interceptions.
To be successful Wednesday night, the Bluejays will have to stop, or at least try to contain Demetrius Terry, who has 17 touchdowns, on 212 attempts rushing, racking up 1747 yards and averaging 8.2 yards per carry.
"I know they have a good tailback," Kesselring said. "They also have a good size line, and they try to get it to him (Terry). Their line is everywhere from 210-240."
"From what we've seen, they like to run the option," he added. "Their quarterback runs well."
The Hornets leading receiver is Donny Nash, who has two catches for 94 yards and a touchdown. The only other receiver with a touchdown is DJ Sullivan, who also has two receptions for 45 yards.
"I told the kids it comes down to who wants to win more," Kesselring said. "And it's going to be who plays smarter."
The Bluejays hit the gridiron for their chance at a sectional win on Wednesday night at 7 p.m. on their home field, as the Crystal City Hornets come to town for the match-up.