The 3-2 record has the young team sitting at No. 28 in the most recent power rankings, which would put the Tigers in the playoffs if the season ended today.
That has optimism high coming into tonight’s game against Franklin at Tiger Stadium. It’s also the fourth game in a row that MCHS will line up against an option offense.
“Sarah Reed, Jeanerette, Pearl River had some form of the option — last week it was in the gun,” MCHS coach Brandon Nowlin said. “I compare Franklin to a combination of what Sarah Reed and Jeanerette were trying to do scheme-wise. They’ve got some pretty good athletes over there. They aren’t very deep past their first level guys, kind of like we are.”
Morgan City hung on to beat Sarah Reed, but Jeanerette’s Abdul Tate gave the defense fits with his bruising running style. Franklin has size and efficient backs, but none with the type of yardage Tate has put up this season.
Tate has 91 carries for 712 yards and seven touchdowns, while Franklin’s leading runner is Brian Robertson with 47 carries for 293 yards and six touchdowns and his brother Raheem Robertson has 15 carries for 215 yards and a touchdown.
“I think they’re going to try to get the ball on the dive a good bit and see if the option plays out for them,” Nowlin said. “Might see some play action a little bit. We’ve just got to try and keep everybody contained and keep them in front of us and be sure of tacklers. If they break one or two tackles in a certain situation, they’ve got some guys that can put it in the box against you. We struggle sometimes giving up the big play, but we’ve shown as a defense that with our backs against the wall we can play pretty well.”
Hornets quarterback Michael Poledore has proven that he can toss the ball down field to keep defenses honest going 25-of-41 for 250 yards with two touchdowns and four interceptions — but the running game is where Franklin hangs its hat.
“It’s going to be interesting to see how our guys, this being the fourth week, to see how much more we’ve been able to improve on (defending the option) from week to week,” Nowlin said. “We’ll see if we can stop it with the athletes they will have out there (tonight).”
Franklin has plenty of size in the trenches and has a history of sending linemen on to the college ranks, most recently Gavin Stansbury at Texas A&M.
“They’re not a very small team, they’ve got some pretty good looking kids up front,” Nowlin said. “They play hard. They’ve got a couple offensive linemen and defensive linemen that are pretty physical kids. I don’t know how heavy they are across the fronts. They’re not small guys. We have a pretty good sized offensive line and defensive line, but not very deep in that regard, so I don’t know how long of a football game it’s going to be since we’ll both run the ball a good bit.”
Last week the Tigers top receiver Austin Stroud sat out with an injured ankle but should return tonight and running back Adeyemi Wheeler is back to full strength after struggling with an ankle injury of his own.
Both will be called on tonight in what should be a close game.
“Both of those guys have done a great job with their rehab,” Nowlin said. “Adeyemi is looking better every week. He was able to get in there and mix it up a little bit last week. We’ll probably look to get him involved a little bit more this week. Hopefully he’ll be able to do some things and keep healthy.
“Austin is a guy we held out last week. He couldn’t do a whole lot of things last week. He’s been working very, very hard to rehab and get better. He’s been out the last couple days and has looked good. I don’t know if he’ll be returning punts or kicks for us, but he’ll be a guy we use on offense and hopefully try to get 25 plus snaps for him. We’re going to pick our spots to use him but if he’s out there and says he’s good to go and we get into a tight ball game — his 25 plays may turn into more.”