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Mabank hosts Kemp for homecoming
By Kerry Yancey
Monitor Staff Writer
MABANK–Throw the records out the window. It’s time for Mabank and Kemp to renew their annual rivalry.
It really doesn’t matter what sport is involved, or whether it’s boys or girls playing – the Yellowjackets and Panthers will provide fans with a show.
Friday night, the Panthers host the ’Jackets for homecoming, with the crowning of a homecoming queen during halftime ceremonies.
Both teams are coming into the game off losses.
Mabank is 1-1 after falling to the hosting Athens Hornets, 21-14, last week, while the ’Jackets haven’t seen much home-field advantage so far, falling to 0-2 with a 39-0 loss to Parish Episcopal last week.
Kemp head coach Greg Anderson has to be feeling frustrated by two straight home losses, because the ’Jackets are clearly playing at a much higher level than last year.
“You could look at the two scores and you could get depressed, but looking at the films, you can see how close we really are,” Anderson said Monday.
“I know the scores haven’t been very good, but I’ve seen them on film. They are much improved from last year,” Mabank head coach Jimmy Cantrell said Monday.
“What has hurt them (Kemp) has been mistakes,” Cantrell added. “We all know about turnovers and penalties. If they eliminate their mistakes, we’re looking at a football game.”
“(On film), you see 10 guys do their job, and one guy mess up, and it’s not the same guy every time,” Anderson said. “What we’re looking at is 99 percent fixable – that’s the good part.”
Turnovers were the crucial element in both teams’ losses last week.
The ’Jackets had four turnovers – two fumbles and two interceptions – and a number of penalties that wiped out what would have been first-down plays against the Parish Episcopal defense.
Kemp also had field position difficulties, but when they had excellent field position, thanks to kickoff returns by Korey Henderson, they weren’t able to take advantage.
In Athens, the Panthers gave up three touchdowns in the first half.
“Time of possession hurt us, and of course we had four turnovers, two fumbles and two picks, and that hurt us,” Cantrell said. “Special teams also played a role – they ran a punt back on us.
“They had a seven-minute opening drive, and we didn’t start playing defense until after that,” Cantrell said.
“Don’t take anything away from Athens. They prepared well for us, and they’re a good physical football team,” he added. “I don’t think our players were expecting that level of smash-mouth, and they’re every bit as good as Kaufman.
“They’re a little more dangerous than Kaufman, because they can throw,” Cantrell said. “Also, their defense gave us a lot of different looks.”
Despite all that, the Panthers had opportunities, but the lack of a true running threat allowed the Hornet defense to drop back into pass coverage against Mabank senior quarterback Kolton Browning.
Browning wound up as the Panthers’ leading rusher, with 44 yards on five scrambles.
“We’ve got to establish a running game with a back who can threaten people,” Cantrell said.
The ’Jackets have a threatening running back in Josh Carr, who makes defenders pay for less-than-perfect tackles.
“Carr is a tough kid. He rushed on us for a couple hundred yards last year,” Cantrell said.
“I’m sure they’re looking at Josh the way we look at Kolton,” Anderson said. “I’m sure they’re game-planning to try and slow him down, and it’s the same with us. Kolton is going to be one of the best quarterbacks we’ll see all year.”
Browning’s ability to evade rushers and keep his eyes focused downfield is one of his greatest strengths, Anderson said.
“Of course, he’s going to cause problems when he tucks the ball and runs,” Anderson added.
“Running the ball is something we’re both focusing on, although we’re a little more run-oriented than they are,” Anderson added. “I’m really impressed with Mabank’s defense, because they were playing some good athletes. They’ve come a long way on defense in a short time.”
“We need to be opportunistic and force turnovers,” Cantrell said. “This will be the third week in a row that we’ll see a ball-control offense. They definitely want to establish the run game, and they use a lot of misdirection stuff.”
Both coaches said mistakes will be the key factor in Friday’s matchup.
“I’ve noticed a big improvement in their younger players,” Cantrell said. “I’m impressed with them. They’re definitely playing with emotion, and I think they could be a playoff team in that district.”
“Both communities get excited,” Anderson said. “I know our kids are fired up to play.
“There will be a big crowd there, but I hope we won’t have any weather issues (from hurricane Ike),” he added.
Monitor Photo/Jennifer Hannigan
Mabank Panther Trey Smith (22) tries to get outside
against the Athens Hornet defense during the Panthers'
21-14 road loss to the Hornets Friday. Smith scored one
of Mabank's two touchdowns in the game.
Monitor Photo/Kerry Yancey
Kemp Yellowjacket Cris Murray (5, left) tries to strip the ball from Parish Episcopal
Lion Brant Costilla (1) as an unidentifiable Yellowjacket defender drags Costilla
down during the first quarter of Kemp's 39-0 loss to the visiting Lions Friday.
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