Pulaski County’s football team will try to win its sixth consecutive game Friday night on the road at Christiansburg. The Cougars are 5-1 on the season, the Blue Demons 1-5, and PCHS leads the series between the two programs, 12-7.
Pulaski County has not been tested since a one-point season opening defeat at Northside, but head coach Stephen James says it’s also very important that the team has improved each week.
“We do believe we have gotten better. The remainder of the season will tell us how good that is, but I do believe we have the type team that can continue to improve and it’s very important that we do. We are still very young in areas. We are also depth shy in areas, however, we have improved out depth a little bit in places, and our young people are becoming more experienced with each passing week. The goal is always to improve, in this season, or any other, but each week we’re seeing different players do things better, make plays, and when you have players step up and play big, become a bigger part of the process, that’s when you get better. We’ve got players making contributions on both offense and defense. Our defense scored twice last week. I like where we’re at as a team,” said James.
The Cougars are scoring more points, and allowing fewer than last season. The team appears to be more confident. What area has the improvement been the most important? “It’s all important,” said James. “Offense, defense, special teams. We have the ability to make a play at any moment. Our offensive line is young, but it’s been improving and we hope gets even better. We are able to run the ball better, and we have a more balanced attack. Teams do not know for certain what we might do in a given situation. Our defense has been really good. We’re quick, and run to the football really well, our kids are aggressive. Our offense has scored, our defense has scored, our kicking game has scored. There is some improvement in all those areas,” added James.
But there are always concerns, even though Friday night for one of the few times in recent seasons, Pulaski County will be a heavy favorite over Christiansburg. How do you keep focus? “You do that by continuing to do the same things in practice all week. Hopefully the players understand that the game has to be played, and until you take it on the field and get the job done, you haven’t won anything. It’s just been a few days since Virginia Tech lost to Old Dominion. You have to be prepared to play, physically and mentally for every game. I don’t care who’s favored. You must get it done first, and every game is very important. We need to be ready to go.”
Leading the way for Christiansburg will be a two-quarterback tandem of M.L. Hunter and 6-5, 215 Jake Clemens. The Blue Demons top linemen are 6-2, 245 Xavier Wright, and 5-11, 230 Nate Meredith. The top running back is 5-10, 205 Liam O’Reilly.
Pulaski County will lineup on offense with 6-1, 265 senior center Jaxson Callahan, the guards are 6-1, 290 junior Logan Fox, and 5-10, 270 sr. Carter Murray, the tackles are 6-3, 260 sophomore Cooper Dunnigan, and 6-3, 272 soph. Clayton Phillips. The tight end is 6-5, 225 jr. Dillon Porter. The quarterback is 6-2, 200 sr. Kade Akers, the tailback 5-9, 185 soph. Jakari Finley, the H-Back 5-9, 195 jr. Austin Gallimore, the slot 5-11, 150 jr. Logan Burchett, the wideout 6-2, 170 sr. E.J. Horton, and the kicker Ryan Castle.
Defensively, the Cougars will have 5-11, 195 sr. Ben Arnett, 5-11, 200 sr. Camden Mariotti, and 5-10, 270 soph. Zeke Surber at the tackles, 6-3, 210 sr. Noah O’Dell and Finley will play the edges, Gallimore and 5-10, 180 jr. Luke Russell will be the inside linebackers, the secondary will have Akers, 6-0, 190 jr. Gage Mannon, 5-11, 175 jr. Chris Shay, and Burchett. Broc Simpson is the punter.
Other Cougars expected to see action will be 6-0, 250 sr. lineman Cody Talbert, 6-1, 168 soph d-back A.J. McCloud, O’Dell on offense at receiver, Cody Gibbs at wide receiver, and 5-10, 225 jr. Tyler Brookman in both lines, and 5-10, 185 soph. Ethan Gallimore at linebacker.
Cougar Paws: Gates will open at Christiansburg’s field at 5:30. … The game will be broadcast live over 107 WPSK. Airtime will be 6:15 with the Insurance Center of Dublin Pregame Show. …In other games of interest to Pulaski County this Friday, Blacksburg will play at Cave Spring, Salem will host Patrick Henry, Amherst travels to Jefferson-Forest, E.C. Glass plays at Rustburg, Northside is at William Fleming, and Abingdon goes to Virginia High in Bristol. The Cougars will return home next Friday to play Blacksburg.
By DAN CALLAHAN, The Patriot