Pulaski County will celebrate its Homecoming Game Friday evening in Dobson Stadium it hopes with a fifth consecutive victory on the 2018 football season. The opponent is Hidden Valley, fresh off a big win at Abingdon and the Titans are an opponent that has seldom been an easy victory for the Cougars. In fact, Pulaski Co. leads the overall series between the two schools by just a single game, 8-7.
The Cougars are 4-1 on the season after ruining Cave Spring’s Homecoming last Friday. The Cougars have won four straight. Pulaski County has defeated the Titans three straight times, but before that, Hidden Valley won four in a row over the Cougars.
The most overall impressive performance for this Pulaski County team was last week at Cave Spring, the offense in the first half, and the defense the entire game. “We executed very well offensively the first half. We should have put up a couple more touchdowns, but it sure is nice to have Ryan Castle around to kick field goals. He’s a big weapon for us when we need him. In the second half we lost our rhythm a bit I think because we were working on some different things and we got a lot of players in the game, but defensively, we were top top of Cave Spring all night. We were very pleased with our defense, an outstanding performance. Play defense like that and you will always have a chance to win,” smiled Cougar head coach Stephen James.
The offensive balance continued. Three running backs had over 50 yards rushing, Jakari Finley went over 100 for the third straight game, four different receivers caught passes, and Kade Akers was sharp at quarterback. “When we execute, we’re hard to defend. Last week is a good example of that, plus we didn’t have a bunch of penalties, however, we still turned the ball over three times. We were driving into the end zone on our first possession of the second half and fumbled a touchdown away. We must take better care of the football,” said James.
Abingdon was favored to defeat Hidden Valley at home last Friday, but it didn’t work out that way. The Cougar opponent came up big. “Hidden Valley played well. They made plays. When Abingdon made a mistake, they made them pay. It was a solid win. Hidden Valley will force us to play well,” said James.
Coaches do not like Homecoming games. It’s always been that way. Coaches are creatures of habit and they do not like change. “All coaches dislike Homecoming games,” laughed James. “It takes you out of your routine. It changes how you do some things. As a coach, you don’t like that. You always want to win your Homecoming game, and certainly we do Friday, but I will try very hard to keep the same routine in place this week.”
The keys to winning are the same, but improvement continues to be necessary as far as James is concerned. “We’re at an important stage of our season. We must stop unnecessary penalties, we need to stop turning the ball over. There is going to come a time where every possession is vital. It might be Friday night. We must continue to improve our execution, no mistakes, and play hard all the time,” stressed James.
Pulaski County’s defense will have two seniors, Ben Arnett, 5-11, 195, and Cam Mariotti, 5-11, 200, along with 5-10, 270 sophomore Zeke Surber on the defensive front. Playing the edges will be 6-3, 210 sr. Noah O’Dell and 5-9, 175 soph. Jakari Finley. The inside linebackers will be Luke Russell, a 5-10, 170 jr. and Autin Gallimore, a 5-9, 195 jr. The secondary will have Gage Mannon, Chris Shay, Logan Burchett, and A.J. McCloud, all underclassmen.
Offensively, the Cougars will lineup 6-1, 265 senior center Jaxson Callahan, the guards will be 5-10, 270 sr. Carter Murray and 6-1, 290 jr. Logan Fox. The tackles are a pair of sophomores, 6-3, 268 Clayton Phillips and 6-3, 260 Cooper Dunnigan. The tight end is 6-5, 225 jr. Dillon Porter.
The backfield and wideouts will have 6-2, 200 sr. Kade Akers at quarterback, Finley at tailback, but you will see Mannon a lot, Gallimore is the H-back, Burchett the slot, and E.J. Horton is the wideout. You will also see a of O’Dell in the formation as well. Castle is the kicker and Broc Simpson the punter.
James is very much on the mark when he says every game is vital. Class 4, Region D is strong. Qualifying for the playoffs, and seeding is hugely important and every week has a direct effect on that. The top eight teams as of this week are Blacksburg at 5-0, Jefferson Forest 4-0, Pulaski Co. 4-1, William Byrd 4-1, E.C. Glass 3-1, GW-Danville 3-1, Liberty Christian 3-1, and Salem 2-3.
Some have celebrated that Salem has lost three straight games for the first time since 1994. However, each one of those defeats came to a undefeated football team. Dinwiddie, Blacksburg, and Northside have a combined record of 14-0. There is much yet to learn.
Gates will open to Dobson Stadium at 5:30………..The game will be broadcast live on 107 PSK beginning with the Insurance Center of Dublin Pregame Show at 6:15………………In other games of importance to Pulaski County Friday evening Salem plays at Christiansburg, Patrick Henry is at Blacksburg, Northside travels to Galax, E.C. Glass hosts Brookville, and Forest plays at Liberty Christian. Next week the Cougars will make the short jaunt to Christiansburg.
By DAN CALLAHAN, The Patriot