Longhorns set for home opener

LINDEN – Marengo Academy (1-0) will move into region play Friday night as it faces fledgling program Eastwood Christian (1-1) for the first time.

“They’re pretty young. I think they’ve got three seniors,” Marengo Academy head coach Robby James said.

Eastwood opened its season with a win over Chambers Academy before taking a thrashing at the hands of Jackson Academy last week.

“They’ve got a good running back. He plays good on defense and offense,” James said. “They run out of shotgun, spread set, double slots. Pretty much wide open. They don’t get out of that much.”

After defending a run heavy team in South Choctaw Academy in the first game of the season, the Longhorns have spent the bulk of this week trying to adjust to a spread attack.

“The weather has been kind of hard this week. We’ve missed practice and really haven’t gotten to do a lot,” James said of his team, which is upbeat after opening with a victory just a season removed from going 2-8 in 2011. “They’re excited about it. I know it is always good to get a win. We didn’t really play all that great on offense. I think we only had 12 or 14 plays the first half. I think you feel like you’re going to improve from game one to game two a lot. The only thing I worry about this week is that we didn’t get a lot of practice time this week.”

While James’ team did not get the practice time it would have liked in, the game plan for the defense is firmly in place and a bulk of the responsibility falls on the defensive line.

“Up front, you’ve got to be able to control the line of scrimmage a little bit,” James said. “They’re going to run some zone stuff. They run a lot of swing stuff, passes. They’ll run speed sweeps and things like that. The defensive line has got to be able to control that stuff in the middle.”

While James’ defense lacked practice time in preparation for East Wood, he is comfortable the group will not lack confidence or effort going into the contest.

“Our guys are confident in the fact that they’re just going to play hard,” James said. “It’s the first time since I’ve been there that we’d have eight or nine, sometimes 10 guys on a tackle. It was good to see, a lot of effort.”

James’ power run offense will be countered by a loaded box on the defensive side of the ball. James said he anticipates Eastwood will stick with the 5-2 front it has commonly shown and crowd the line of scrimmage against the Longhorns.

Marengo Academy and Eastwood are set to kick off at 7 p.m. at Linden Athletic Field.