Longhorns looking to rebound against Wilcox

LINDEN — The Longhorns (3-1, 2-0) are ready to get back on the field this week after suffering their first loss of the season last week against Class AA Patrician.

“We played pretty well last week. But late in the game, second half especially, they started running what we call a counter trey and the play really hurt us,” Marengo Academy head coach Robby James said. “We’ve been over and over and over it so we can be better at that this week. But the effort was there. I was real pleased with the effort. We got after Patrician and tackled pretty well. We’re young and I think they wore us down a little bit, especially toward the second half.”

Marengo’s first chance to bounce back comes Friday night when it travels to face familiar foe Wilcox Academy.

“It’s not a region game, but it’s still a big game. I guess you’d call it a rival. It’s Wilcox Academy. We always play them hard. They play us hard. We consider it a little rivalry game. They’ve got a really huge team. Their line averages about 265 a man. They’ve got some really good backs,” James said. “They’ve lost to some good teams.”

Marengo will present a unique challenge to Wilcox when it lines up in its traditional Wing T offense and looks to pound the ball down the field.

“We’re the first team that they’ve played that is lined up under center. Every team that they’ve played has been in the shotgun running spread stuff,” James said. “It’s going to be a little bit different for them probably to see our Wing T, although they’ve always defended it pretty well.”

While the Longhorn offense will present a different look to Wilcox, the Wildcats’ scheme may prove to be equally as frustrating to a Longhorn defense unaccustomed to such an attack.

“They pretty much run the veer. They run split backs. You don’t see that a lot now, so that’s something you have to work on too because you’ve got assignment football. Somebody has got to take that dive. Somebody’s got to have the quarterback. Somebody is responsible for the pitch. So we’ve worked on that too. Hopefully we’ve got it enough that we can play with them,” James said. “They’ll throw out of it too. They’ll run slots and splits.”

As his team has progressed over the last few weeks, James has been able to better identify the roles into which his players fit. Offensively, Hayden Huckabee has proven the Longhorns’ most dynamic playmaker while Josh Holifield has served as the bell cow of the gournd game.

Friday night, James’ team may tinker with the formula some in the interest of potentially improving on what has already been effective.

“Josh is an excellent back. He played last week with a high ankle sprain and it bothered him. He just couldn’t cut on his foot. I’m hoping this week that he’s going to be near 100 percent,” James said. “We’ve also worked Brant (Lewis) at fullback this week too. Both of those guys are working there. We’ve worked Tyler Barkley a little bit at quarterback and we’ve got Hayden Huckabee and Ralph Langley working at the halfback. We’re going to try that maybe and just see how that works out.”

While Lewis, who scored the Longhorns’ only touchdown last week, will likely take on a little more offensive responsibility Friday night, it is his work on special teams that has proven truly invaluable to the Longhorns thus far this season.

Lewis, the team’s place kicker and punter, unleashed a 56-yard punt last week against Patrician as well as a 43-yard kick that penned PA at its own 7 yard line.

“That’s huge really. He punted for us last year but he has really improved on it. He works at it. He gets to practice early and stays late. He enjoys his kicking. It’s a big weapon though when you can punt it. He’s been working hard on that, just directional punting,” James said of Lewis’ ability to flip field position for the Longhorns. “Our snapper, Carson Huckabee, has really improved too at getting it back there to him.”

The Longhorns lead the lifetime series against Wilcox Academy 12-11.