‘Canes prepared to host IMAC co-leader South-Doyle
The Morristown East Hurricanes are making the most of the opportunities that present themselves as they are enjoying one of their best seasons in several years.
East is 7-1 and one of the biggest reasons for their success is how successful they are once they get inside their opponents 20 yard line. The Canes are 25-of-27 in the red zone this season (93%) compared to only 11-of-18 (61%) for their opponents.
East coach Dwayne Hatcher said that finishing drives for touchdowns is crucial for his team and so far, they have responded.
“I knew we have had some success in the red zone, but I contribute that to the kids more than any scheme that we run. When we get down there, we want to score and that’s the important thing,” Hatcher said.
“There is a lot of debate about teams that line up in a spread gun that when they get down in the red zone, they are not able to score. Some people switch to more of a power type scheme. But what we do is try to keep the other team from packing it in on us.”
The East offense has been rolling, outscoring their opponents on average 38-17, averaging six yards per rush, scoring at least 35 points in six of eight games and tallying 28 rushing touchdowns compared to only seven for the opposition.
The defensive production is just as impressive, as the Canes have forced 13 fumbles, picked off 10 passes and sacked the other team’s quarterback 23 times as opposed to being sacked six times all season.
Hatcher said his defense continues to play hard and with that, good things have happened.
“The defense has really done a good job. If they get blocked, they don’t stay blocked and they pursue the football. We have done a good job of getting a large number of white hats to the ball and that has been important for us and a big reason for the success we have had this year,” Hatcher said.
The Canes will need to continue their balanced approach this week as they face one of their toughest opponents so far on Friday. Coach Clark Duncan has duplicated the success he had at Powell once he moved to South-Doyle, and he brings his Cherokees into this week’s game with a 6-2 overall record. They are also tied atop the IMAC standings at 5-0.
“We have seen quite a bit of film on them and they have some athletes on offense and a lot of those guys also play defense,” Hatcher said.
“They probably have more guys going both ways than anyone we have played in the conference this year. South-Doyle is a run-oriented team and they rely heavily on their athleticism and getting in open space.”
The Cherokees like to change the look of their offense from time to time but they always come back to a power running game which should make for an interesting matchup against East’s defense who is stingy against the rush.
“They don’t line up in the same formation all the time as they have gone from being spread out from numbers to numbers to packing it in, but it is all still a shotgun-based offense. They rely heavily on running a jet sweep and quarterback counter off that sweep and then play action behind it,” Hatcher stated.
With only two weeks remaining in the regular season, Friday’s game will have major playoff implications as the Hurricanes and Cherokees battle at Burke-Toney Stadium. Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m.
-By Marlin Curnutt, Tribune Correspondent