NEW MADRID-- It will be an even match-up this Friday, as the New Madrid County Central Eagles football team will take on the Potosi Trojans. Both teams offer potentially devastating offenses coupled with effective defense.
"Their 1-1, we're 1-1," NMCC head coach Arlen Pixley said. "They (Potosi) are a class 3 potential post-season opponent to us, and we are to them too. It will be the first time we've seen each other. I'm excited about the match-up."
Last week, NMCC overpowered Cape Central 44-35 while Potosi dropped a heartbreaker at Pacific, 22-21.
Pixley feels that his team has learned much from the first two games of the season.
"I learned that our kids have a lot of fight," he said. "That's two weeks in a row we have been in dog fights with much bigger schools. You go back to week one we fought (Poplar) Bluff as long as we could. We had some assignment breakdowns that game in the fourth quarter that gave them some big touchdowns."
"This past week against Cape (Central) it was a see-saw game until we establish control late," Pixley added. "Once again, the mental mistakes on both sides of the ball really hurt us. Everything these teams have done to us, we have kind of done to ourselves. Not to take away anything from those two teams. But after really breaking down the film, we see that we have to play smart assignment football. If we do that, good things will happen for us."
New Madrid will rely once again on a potent running attack Friday night. The running game was running on all cylinders last week at Cape.
"It's come all in our backfield, not just one person," Pixley said. "We had one kid rush for 202 yards, another for 115, and another for 95. So we had three kids last week have great games. One of those guys had over 300 all-purpose yards. The kid that rushed to 115 had 267 all purpose yards. We're getting it done. We are getting the ball into our playmakers' hands."
NMCC looks for this to be the week that the passing attack really begins to make an impact.
"Our passing game has got to step up," Pixley said. "We need our receivers to run good hard routes. I think good things will happen for us in the passing game."
As important as the continued excellence the Eagles running game is to their success, Pixley feels winning the battle on the offensive line and concentration will be extremely important Friday.
"With our offense, we have to handle their front four (defensive line)," he said. "They (Potosi) run a 4-3 defense with two high safeties. Our front five (offensive line) has got to do a better job than they have the last two weeks against that defensive line of theirs that is pretty good. They (Potosi) are all big, solid guys. Their height and weight are impressive. On film, they look to be a bunch of immovable objects."
Pixley emphasized that this game will be won or lost on the execution of the offensive and defensive line's Friday
"On the lines is where all games are won and lost," he said. "You're not going to steal a ball game very often by someone making more mistakes than you."
Defensively, Pixley points to concentration and assignments as the biggest keys for the Eagles success.
"We cannot have any mental breakdowns on the defense this week," he said. "Last week, we broke down mentally. For instance, we had Cape in a third-and-15 situation and gave up a huge run to their running back. Those kind of things just can't happen for us to be effective this week. We have to clean up the tackling. We have to play 11-man football. We have to know our assignments. We have to do the things we've been working on since week one, and just do them better. We have to take the proper angles, we haven't done that the last two weeks and its cost us."
Potosi, under the leadership of first-year head coach Mark Casey, will present an effective offensive scheme to in addition to their accomplished defense.
"Offensively, they have a running back that rushed for about 250 yards in week one," Pixley said. "They came out in week two and tried to establish the run early, but they were forced to throw it a little bit. Their passing game looked good. Under the previous head coach (Matt Haug) up there Potosi was more of a passing team. Under the new coach, they are really trying to establish the power run game. But their passing is still very good."
Fridays match-up will be a struggle on both sides of the ball that will come down to execution and preparation.
"They (Potosi) are going to have to contend with a lot of the stuff we throw at people offensively. They are going to have to contend with a high pressure defense. We will show them some things on both sides of the ball they may not have seen yet."
Although confident, Pixley feels that Potosi will present the Eagles with one of their best challenges on the schedule.
"They are good at what they do," Pixley said. "They had a hiccup last week against Pacific in a game they should have won."
Potosi and NMCC will kickoff at 7 p.m. Friday in New Madrid.