|Cumby looking to start district off with win|
|Joseph Elerson | News-Telegram Sports Writer|
Sept. 23, 2004 - CUMBY - The non-district schedule in District 17-A is now over, and Friday night begins the drive to the Class A state playoffs and a possible appearance for the Cumby Trojans for the first time in over 25 years.
Second-year coach Kent Hawthorne's Trojans (2-2) will suit up against the Celeste Blue Devils (0-3), a team coming off a bye week under coach Mike Lipsey.
"Celeste will have the same feeling that we have right now being 0-3 and having an open date last week and enduring another week knowing that they didn't have a chance to win or play, and that is real tough," Hawthorne said. "They did have a chance to get healthy and that is what we need right now."
Cumby is coming off a Week Three loss to the Simms James Bowie Pirates 28-21 at home last Friday, and Hawthorne said the team made some crucial mistakes during that game.
"We made a lot of mistakes last week. Anytime you have 15 first downs, you don't punt one time, you return a punt for a touchdown, an interception for a touchdown and have nearly 200 yards rushing, you are supposed to win those games," Hawthorne said. "We had a block in the back call on an interception return for a TD, we had a fumbled snap deep in their territory, and we are in a bind right now because we believe we should be 4-0 going into Celeste instead of 2-2."
Celeste has lost to Blooming Grove 29-13, Como-Pickton 43-7, and Blue Ridge 27-26 this season and are picked as 13-point favorites over Cumby, according to the Harris Ratings.
Friday night wraps up a three-game home stand for the Trojans before going back on the road next week against the Wolfe City Wolves.
"We don't care if we are playing Celeste or anybody else, we just want to win and we are going to try and do what we can to win a football game, and we need some luck to go our way this week," Hawthorne said.
The Blue Devils look to quarterback Brandon Darter to have a successful district campaign this season, after being the backup last year to John Mark Bernard during the team's undefeated district campaign and 8-3 playoff record.
"One of our goals in the game is to make Darter throw that ball and that is what we are hoping they do in the game. We hope they will throw the ball on every single play, and that we can stop their running game so they have to pass," Hawthorne said.
Hawthorne said the running back combination of Eddie Ford and Robert Cotten, who combined for nine touchdowns last year, will be an area that the Cumby defense will try and stop throughout the game.
"I think Celeste is a pretty dominate team that can do whatever they want to do and however they want to do it," Hawthorne said. "They have some pretty good running backs with good speed. I think if we get on top of them, we will get some balls in the air, and if they get on top of us they will try to run the ball down our throats."
Hawthorne said from what the coaches have seen on film in preparation this week Celeste is staying true to their running game more than they did in a previous loss to the Como-Pickton Eagles, and they have not shown the 40-defense against opponents in recent weeks.
"From the other films we have collected on them, they do not show that stack 40 look. They only showed it against Como-Pickton, and they ate it up," Hawthorne said. "They have a running back that can run, and they were throwing the ball to try and play catch-up."
In other district 17-A match-ups Friday night, Quinlan Boles (1-3) will travel to Detroit (1-3), Rivercrest (2-2) will face off against the Melissa Cardinals (3-1), and Wolfe City will have its bye week after ending non-district play at 1-3.
Hawthorne said the team's goal of receiving a gold ball this season will start against Celeste and cutting out the mistakes the team has made during the first four games will go a long way toward that goal.
"We preached to them from game one that you can't make mistakes and win football games. We know they are a good, physical football team," Hawthorne said. "They have good speed, great size, great tradition, and we are going to have to play hard and play smart and hope we get some bounces going our way during the game."