Blue Devils Not Taking Winless Eagles Lightly
Thu. September 13, 2012 at 8:49 p.m. | By Polk Preps Staff
By BILL KEMP
Ledger Media Group
There's just something different about high school football in Polk County. Unless a bye appears on the schedule no team gets an easy week. Call it the SEC of the prep's scene.
Tonight, No. 5 ranked Winter Haven (2-0) heads into Veterans Stadium to face an 0-2 George Jenkins squad that is only a couple of plays away from being undefeated, a fact that hasn't slipped past the Blue Devils coaching staff.
"On our sheet this week, on intangibles, that's what I wrote down that this is a hungry football team that we are facing," Winter Haven head coach Charlie Tate said, and he is preparing his team in like manner.
"I told them (my players) I will push harder when they win than when they lose. They can take being rode hard. It's a team that is not winning that you can't ride because you will just beat them to death."
Last week, Blue Devils running back Adam Lane busted loose for 194 yards and two touchdowns against Haines City, but Tate is concerned the running holes may close faster against the quicker Class 7A Eagles.
"Defensively, I think they have the best front we've played so far. They will be the fastest front," Tate said. "We're big upfront and we practice against ourselves so I don't know if we will be as fast as we need to be. I think that is a big challenge."
George Jenkins head coach Eric Gallon, who played running back at Kansas State in the early '90s, also points to the trenches as the key to the game, and the key to stopping Lane from having another huge night.
"I know good running backs when I see them, and he is a talented one," Gallon said. "Our job is to do the best job that we can to try to contain him and control the line of scrimmage as much as we can."
The Eagles picked up a big game last week from their running back Trent Rains in a 20-18 loss at Kathleen. Rains had 124 yards on 15 carries, including a 55-yard touchdown run, but the Red Devils were able overcome an 18-7 fourth-quarter deficit.
"We had a decent week of practice and it's been a focal point at practice to go out and complete a full game and not just play it for two quarters or three quarters," Gallon said. "This is a tough county to play football in. There are no gimmees. I was telling a couple of friends of mine that I played college ball with It's like the toughest football that you are going to find. If you go out there on any given Friday and you're not prepared, you're going to get your butt waxed."
Both teams are expected to be at full strength tonight and Clas 6A Winter Haven is welcoming the return of strong safety Gary Smith, who hasn't played yet this season due to injury.