By Clint Parker
EHS – The Erwin Warriors will have a home field advantage this year in the opening game of the first round of playoffs Friday (Nov 16) as Erwin takes on the Alexander Central Cougars from Taylorsville.
The Warriors are 9-1 overall and 7-1 in conference and will be taking on a Cougar team that has a record of 9-2 overall and 5-2 in conference. Erwin has a state ranking of 54th while Alexander Central is ranked 79th in the state.
The Leader caught up with Warrior Coach Rodney Pruett to ask his thoughts on Friday’s night game and the Alexander Central Cougars. “They’re going to be a formidable foe. They’re a successful program. They’re a playoff team consistently every year,” said Pruett about the Cougars. “There only two losses were to really, really good teams.”
Pruett then started talking about the Cougars style of football and what the Warriors will have to do to win the game. “They’re a ball control offense. They want to keep the ball and attack us down hill, defensively. So we’ll have to get stops. Defensively we have to get off the field and give our offense possessions and hopefully we can convert on the offensive side,” said Pruett.
Pruett also talked about the Cougars’ defense. “Defensively, they do have a Shrine Bowl lineman kid. He’s 6-1, 275 pounds…they got him and #52 are on their “D” line,” explained Pruett. The two players Pruett cited are seniors Isaac Chapman (51) and Marterion Howell (52). Howell is a 6-2, 255 pounder according to the Cougars’ roster found on Maxpreps.com. (Highlight footage of Chapman at the link at the end of this story)
“We’re really going to have to block ’em and stay on ’em and maybe even double team them because they’re that good and we want to keep them out of the back field and give Kendrick (Weaver – #2) time to throw the ball and give Rashod (Chaffin – #20) running lanes,” said Pruett. “It’s going to be a challenge, but our kids are up for it! Our mindset is you win and move on or you lose and go home.”
“Fortunately for us, we are playing at home and that’s a big boost for us, for our kids! I know our community will come out,” Pruett explained of the home field advantage that Erwin has come Friday. “It’s been a few years since we played at home in the playoffs and that’s a credit to the kids and the coaches for having a stellar season…the kids thrive with the backing of the Warrior Nation.”
Pruett reflected on the team’s only loss this season to A.C. Reynolds saying, “It was the first conference game so I feel like we’ve grown a lot and found out a lot about ourselves. We’ve been in some big games since then and that was our only defeat…but now there’s no do-overs. You have to bring your “A” game.” Friday’s game gets underway at 7:30 pm.
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