When McCracken County and Paducah Tilghman met on the football field last season, it was Tilghman that stunned the Mustangs at McRight Field.
The season-opener returns to Marquette Stadium on Saturday and Mustangs coach Marc Clark said that matchup is on his mind and the minds of his players as the rematch approaches.
“I would be lying if I said we didn’t have a little edge about that,” Clark said. “Our kids want to kind of redeem themselves and play a little bit better. They’re a good football team and they practice just like we do and I’m sure they’ve got a great game plan going in. We’ve just got to focus on us.
“I felt like our offseason, the kids did all they could to prepare and get ready. We’re bigger, faster and stronger. I think they’re excited for the opportunity to go out and compete. It’ll be a bigger atmosphere, so I know they’re excited for it.”
In the 2018 opener, the Blue Tornado ran for 341 yards and five touchdowns in a 35-6 win over the Mustangs.
As is its recipe the last few years, there’s a high likelihood the run game will be prominent again this weekend.
But, what will also be a factor is experience – with an abundance of returning talent on both teams.
“Like all 73 of the guys on our team, I’m obviously extremely excited about our upcoming game this weekend,” Tilghman coach Jonathan Smith said. We have a great senior class that has really come together these last few weeks as a cohesive group. My thought on this game specifically is that like most, the team that establishes a dominating presence on the line of scrimmage will win the game. McCracken County is, in my opinion, a much-improved team from the team we faced last year. They have a talented group of skill players on both sides of the ball and size up front. We know the environment will be hostile, and our guys are focused and ready to play. I have all the faith in the world in our team leaders. At the end of the day, this game boils down to a game of will, and I think our guys are ready to go.”
Caldwell moving forward with interim coach
Caldwell County was ready to go with David Barnes entering his 13th season as coach. But, after collapsing at a scrimmage last Friday night, Barnes died Saturday morning. He was 59.
Monday, Waynee McGowan was named the interim coach. He was previously Barnes’ No. 2 on the sidelines.
McGowan was an assistant at Caldwell when it won a Class 2A championship in 1998 and was inducted into the school’s Hall of Fame in 2001.
This week’s top games
Game of the Week: McCracken County vs. Paducah Tilghman
When: Saturday, 7
Where: Marquette Stadium, Paducah
Notable: The all-time series between the schools is tied at three wins apiece. McCracken County hasn’t lost to Tilghman at Marquette Stadium since the school opened seven years ago.
Prediction: McCracken by 10
Mayfield vs. Lausanne Collegiate (Tenn.)
When: Friday, 7
Where: War Memorial Stadium, Mayfield
Notable: This will be a matchup between two state runners-up. Mayfield lost to Christian Academy of Louisville last December at Kroger Field in the Class 2A title game. Lausanne, the alma mater of ex-Murray State guard Cameron Payne, lost in the TSSAA Class 2A title game last winter.
Prediction: Mayfield by 7
Caldwell County vs. Christian County
When: Friday, 7
Where: Tiger Stadium, Princeton
Notable: The Colonels have won the last five Week 1 matchups against Caldwell County, most recently last year’s 11-6 defense-filled game at the Stadium of Champions in Hopkinsville.
Prediction: Caldwell County by 7
Murray vs. Graves County
When: Friday, 7
Where: Ty Holland Field, Murray
Notable: Murray has lost each of the last two season-opening games against Graves.
Quotable: “We’ve had one of if not our best weeks of practice which is always good to start the year. The players seem more focused than I felt like we were a year ago & that allows us to move past that 1st game jitters I think quicker. Graves Co is obviously a very tough opponent to start the season off with. But I like starting out the season this way because it’s really going to show us where we are & the things that are going to need more focus. The key for us is turnovers & taking advantage of opportunities. Two things we haven’t done very well lately in this 1st game. Our depth chart is being tested early but that’s part of the game so we need to come out swinging from the start.” – Murray coach Keith Hodge
Prediction: Murray by 14
Other games this week
Calloway County vs. Todd County Central
When: Friday, 7
Where: Jack D. Rose Stadium, Murray
Prediction: Todd Central by 17
Marshall County vs. Ballard Memorial
When: 7, Friday
Where: Carroll Traylor Stadium, Draffenville
Prediction: Marshall by 24