Falcons, Wildcats ready for Bull Run showdown

Central's Marshall McAboy hauls down Clarke County's Daniel Braithwaite for no gain on a rushing play on Sept. 23 in Woodstock. The Falcons play at Warren County at 7 tonight. Rich Cooley/Daily file

Central and Warren County are both coming off emotional overtime games.

The Falcons knocked off last year’s Group 2A state runner-up Clarke County, 22-21. The Wildcats rallied in the final seconds of regulation only to fall, 26-20 in overtime, to Madison County.

Both teams will have to regroup in different ways as they play each other tonight in a Bull Run District contest at 7 p.m. at Warren County.

“It’s tough to lose a game like that, but I don’t think it’s in these kids to quit or give up,” Warren County coach Steve Crist said. “That’s not something that we are really worried about this week.”

The Wildcats trailed 20-17 with 30 seconds left against Madison County last week and moved the ball down the field into field goal position. Warren County senior kicker Stuart Ashley drilled the game-tying field goal on the last play of regulation.

Warren County senior Brendan McMackin, who made a big reception on the game-tying drive, said that even though it was a tough loss the team did a lot of positive things in the game.

“Everyone felt like we should have won that game,” McMackin said. “We felt like we all played well. So if everyone can continue playing well I’m sure we can keep getting better as the weeks go on.”

The Falcons are on the other end of the spectrum. Central coach Mike Yew said he was worried that his team might get complacent and be on too much of a high after the win over the Eagles, but he was happy with how they’ve responded this week.

“We’ve talked about that each day in practice. We just want our kids to focus one week at a time,” Yew said. “We can’t look at what ifs. Right now we are a football team that’s 3-1. We’ve got a very important game Friday night with Warren County and then the following Friday we’ll have another very important game and the following Friday we’ll have another very important game. That’s got to be our approach. If we get beyond that we’re going to get ourselves in trouble.”

Yew said the Falcons played a very physical game against the Eagles and they also were very disciplined, which he said was lacking in their loss to Turner Ashby earlier this year.

The Falcons didn’t generate a lot of offense in the win, but mostly relied on their ground game. However, Central sophomore quarterback Zeb Dyer was 6-for-6 in the win.

Yew said he’s been progressing throughout the season.

“Zeb’s got the freedom to audible when he’s out there,” Yew said. “He audibles whenever he wants to. He has grown up. He’s still not an overly vocal kid and that may not be something that he ever is. He’s not a loud kid, but he put the ball down and ran when he had to (against Clarke County). When he saw the throwing lanes and the throw was there he threw it. So he made good decisions.”

The Wildcats have been strong defensively all season, especially against the run.

Central senior tailback Carston Shockey said that the play of the offensive line will be key.

“Their linebackers do a good job at reading and flying to the ball,” Shockey said. “Their d-line’s good at getting in there and creating piles. So offensive line wise, we just need to blow people off the ball and our offense should be fine.”

Crist said the key to the Wildcats’ defense this season has been playing as a unit with everybody filling their roles. He said they have also done a really good job of tackling.

Warren County has been improving with each game on offense. Sophomore quarterback R.J. Kenney threw four interceptions in the season opener, but has made strides since then.

“I think we’ve been doing really well offensively,” McMackin said. “Play calling’s been good. We have a lot of scorers on offense. Our o-line’s good. I think we have a real solid offense.”

Crist said that the things that make Central hard to stop on offense are also what make the team solid on defense.

“They’re tough, well-coached,” Crist said. “They read well, they fill well. They take care of their individual jobs, which obviously leads to a good team effort. They’re really good tacklers.”

The game is important for both teams. Central is trying to keep their momentum going after a big win, while the Wildcats are trying to get some momentum going after a tough loss.

Crist said it will be important for them to stop the run and to play with passion.

“We have got to play with the same intensity that we’ve been playing with, and match what we know they’ll bring to the table,” Crist said. “That’s going to be a big key.”

Contact staff writer Tommy Keeler at 540-465-5137 ext. 168, or tkeeler@nvdaily.com.