MuskogeePhoenix.com, Muskogee, OK

Prep Sports

November 23, 2012

Closing down the spread: Hornets want to limit Blanchard’s offense

— Possibly more than any other Hilldale player, Richard Mabery finds himself in the spotlight tonight when the Hornets clash with the Blanchard Lions in the Class 3A quarterfinals.

He’s not shying away from it.

“I know what I need to do,” the 5-foot-10, 165-pound senior said. “If I don’t, that might hurt our chances to get to the next round. I just have to keep doing what I’ve been doing in practice. This game is going to be a really good test for me and show me whether I’m a good defensive back or not.”

Mabery lines up at cornerback tonight and his job is to defend Blanchards’ 6-foot-3, 205-pound wide receiver Zach Hill. The Lions’ senior has a team-leading 741 yards and eight touchdowns.

It’s quite a task, but not an insurmountable one as far as Mabery is concerned.

“I’ve been thinking about that,” he said. “Bradley (Campbell) had to cover the best receiver when we played Checotah (in the first round of the playoffs). He did a good job. Now, it’s my turn to see if I can do it.”

Ryan Keenum, the Hornets’ secondary coach, is confident in Mabery’s abilities.

“He does a really good job of not getting out of position,” Keenum said. “He always puts his eyes where they to be and he uses proper technique. Richard’s the fastest guy on the field a lot of times and does a solid job in pass coverage.”

Mabery has 21 tackles with two interceptions and three pass breakups going into tonight’s game between Hornets, who are 11-1 for the season, and the No. 10-ranked Lions (10-1).

Hilldale, though, had to play one game this season without Mabery. He suffered a torn knee ligament against Checotah in the first week of the playoffs, but was back in the lineup last Friday against Verdigris.  He now wears a knee brace.

“It’s fine now,” he said. “I’m still working to get the leg better.”

Mabery gets plenty of work for the Hornets. He also starts at wide receiver and is the team’s fourth-leading receiver with five catches for 118 yards and a touchdown.

His biggest asset is his speed, which the Hornets hope to take advantage of tonight.

“He’s a big part of what we’re doing,” head coach Chad Kirkhart said. “He’s definitely a big threat on offense and spreads the field. It’s important that he plays well in the secondary. Richard has to be fundamentally sound in the game because they’ve got that good wide receiver.”

Mabery is ready for the challenge that awaits him.

“I don’t want (Hill) getting in front of me, catching the ball and making big plays,” he said. “I’m going to do what coach Keenum has told me to do and play the coverage that’s called. If all of us do that, we’ve got a good chance at winning the game.”

The Hilldale-Blanchard winner meets the Jones-Claremore Sequoyah winner in the semifinals next week.

chard Lions in the Class 3A quarterfinals.

He’s not shying away from it.

“I know what I need to do,” the 5-foot-10, 165-pound senior said. “If I don’t, that might hurt our chances to get to the next round. I just have to keep doing what I’ve been doing in practice. This game is going to be a really good test for me and show me whether I’m a good defensive back or not.”

Mabery lines up at cornerback tonight and his job is to defend Blanchards’ 6-foot-3, 205-pound wide receiver Zach Hill. The Lions’ senior has a team-leading 741 yards and eight touchdowns.

It’s quite a task, but not an insurmountable one as far as Mabery is concerned.

“I’ve been thinking about that,” he said. “Bradley (Campbell) had to cover the best receiver when we played Checotah (in the first round of the playoffs). He did a good job. Now, it’s my turn to see if I can do it.”

Ryan Keenum, the Hornets’ secondary coach, is confident in Mabery’s abilities.

“He does a really good job of not getting out of position,” Keenum said. “He always puts his eyes where they to be and he uses proper technique. Richard’s the fastest guy on the field a lot of times and does a solid job in pass coverage.”

Mabery has 21 tackles with two interceptions and three pass breakups going into tonight’s game between Hornets, who are 11-1 for the season, and the No. 10-ranked Lions (10-1).

Hilldale, though, had to play one game this season without Mabery. He suffered a torn knee ligament against Checotah in the first week of the playoffs, but was back in the lineup last Friday against Verdigris.  He now wears a knee brace.

“It’s fine now,” he said. “I’m still working to get the leg better.”

Mabery gets plenty of work for the Hornets. He also starts at wide receiver and is the team’s fourth-leading receiver with five catches for 118 yards and a touchdown.

His biggest asset is his speed, which the Hornets hope to take advantage of tonight.

“He’s a big part of what we’re doing,” head coach Chad Kirkhart said. “He’s definitely a big threat on offense and spreads the field. It’s important that he plays well in the secondary. Richard has to be fundamentally sound in the game because they’ve got that good wide receiver.”

Mabery is ready for the challenge that awaits him.

“I don’t want (Hill) getting in front of me, catching the ball and making big plays,” he said. “I’m going to do what coach Keenum has told me to do and play the coverage that’s called. If all of us do that, we’ve got a good chance at winning the game.”

The Hilldale-Blanchard winner meets the Jones-Claremore Sequoyah winner in the semifinals next week.

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