Once he makes that first tackle tonight, Josh Giem will be fine.
By that time, the 6-foot, 215-pound Hilldale senior linebacker will have last week’s loss to Fort Gibson out of his mind and focusing his energy on stopping Beggs’ running attack, led by Chris Baccus.
Leading up to the game, it was hard for Giem and the Hornets not to think about the 21-12 loss last Friday and The Rock going to Fort Gibson.
“The coaches told us to look past the game,” he said. “I haven’t forgotten it. It’s not going to affect our season at all other than we lost The Rock. I wish we could’ve won the game, but things happen.
“But now we play against another team with a good running back.”
Last week, it was Fort Gibson’s Jake Gandara, who had 98 yards rushing on 28 carries. This week, it’s Baccus, who also may be more than a handful for Giem and the Hornets’ defense. The 6-foot-2, 212-pounder ran for 2,109 yards and 24 touchdowns last season. Though the Demons are winless after their first two games this season, he’s still a threat and one Giem looks to stop.
“He’s pretty big,” the Hilldale senior said. “He may not be big up top, but he’s got big legs. He runs really hard. Baccus doesn’t juke you. He’s going to run over you. I like it. I’m ready.”
Giem leads the Hornets in total tackles with 37 -- including 21 last Friday against Fort Gibson -- through the first two games.
Chad Kirkhart is supremely confident in Giem’s abilities on the field.
“He has great instincts,” the Hornets’ coach said of the three-year starter. “Josh’s a physical, tough kid. The bottom line is that he’s a football player.
“They’ve got guys who can lift the gym or run a 4.5 in the 40-yard dash, but they can’t do what Josh does. He’s going to be around the football, probably on every play.”
Giem has watched enough of Beggs on videotape to know it will run the ball inside, outside or pitch it -- to Baccus. Giem is more than OK with that.
“I like playing against running teams,” he said. “I like to hit people. It’s better than playing against a passing teams because I can get more tackles.”
Giem especially thrives against the run this season because he worked on improving his strength from the end of last season until now.
“After we got out of football last year, I lifted a lot this summer,” he said. “During the powerlifting season, I worked out twice a day. I also worked out twice a day in the summer. I’m a whole lot stronger than I was last season.”
Colleges are noticing Giem. Northeastern State, Pittsburg State and Central Oklahoma have shown the most interest. Those are in the future as he’s more focused on tonight, the Hornets’ last preseason game.
“I think our defense will be fine against Beggs,” Giem said. “I’ve just got to tackle well.”
Beggs at Hilldale
Kickoff: 7:30 tonight
Radio: KTFX 101.7 FM