, Muskogee, OK


September 19, 2013

Hornets' DL stands strong

C.J. Hunnicutt insists the  senior leadership at Hilldale, particularly on the defensive side where he mans one end, is cohesive.

There’s not much to doubt that.

But they are human.

There was a point in the third quarter of last week’s Red-White Rumble where he confessed things “got a little heated.”

Not surprisingly, it was during Fort Gibson’s 10-point rally to take a 10-7 lead into the final eight minutes.

“We got together though and told each other we still had a whole quarter to play. We just had to keep our heads up,” Hunnicutt said.

That quarter came and went. Fort Gibson won 17-10. But it’s hard to peg what happened on the defense, particularly up front. Even Fort Gibson coach James Singleton was singing that group’s praises in post-game comments.

So is Chad Kirkhart, Hilldale’s coach, as the Hornets look to a week 3 road trip to Beggs.

“C.J. played really well and Justin (Sanders, at the other defensive end spot) led us in tackles. Those two have been playing really well the past two weeks and Tyler Gober (nose tackle) is also playing well,” he said.

Hunnicutt (6-foot-3, 235 pounds) is a two-year starter there — and admits it’s been his football home since the fourth grade. The 6-1, 210 Sanders moved from nose to defensive end to make way for the bigger Gober, who stands 5-10 and weighs 245.

That switch has made both positions stronger, Sanders said.

“It’s freed me up and stuff, you know, to be able to go from the outside and rush the passer whereas at nose, I was going to hit a lineman either way I went,” he said.

“Tyler is a man-child. He’s really good and whenever he fires off the ball he demolishes people in front of him. He’s built for that spot.”

They helped limit  Fort Gibson to 78 yards on the ground on 36 carries last Friday.

They’ll need a similar against a Beggs team that beat Sequoyah 47-33 to move to 2-0 on the year.

It’s coached by Gore coach Lee Blankenship, a cousin of Muskogee head coach Josh Blankenship who left Gore after last season to take the Demons job. He watched Lane Bouse rush for 86 yards on 10 carries, make four catches for 59 yards and amass 406 all-purpose yards, some of those coming off an interception that set up what proved to be the game-winning touchdown last week. He also returned kickoffs for 92- and 80-yard scores.

He is a good runner and good returner,” Sanders said. “Their line doesn’t look to be as big as Fort Gibson but they have good technique and good skill from what they did against Sequoyah.”

Kerry Daniels, a 6-2, 220-pound back, had 101 yards in week 1 for the Demons. Daniels has 163 rushing yards for the season, Bouse has 211. But quarterback Tyler Marr (32-of-49, 464 yards passing) brings balance.

“They’re the type team that we have to play assignment football against,” Kirkhart said. “They hit a lot of big plays against Bristow (a 41-7 win) and a lot of big plays against Sequoyah. We have to keep the edge contained and play the run fits and zone reads and keep pressure on the passer.”

Blankenship has taken note of the Hilldale front three.

“That 3-4 scheme is pretty aggressive and brings pressure every down,” he said. “It’s good that we’ve got a similar scheme so that helps us a little in preparing.

“Most of their guys don’t play offense or if they do it’s in situations. So they’ll be playing fresh and hard all night.”

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