Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Giles ready for second chance against Radford this Friday night

Bluefield Daily Telegraph

BLUEFIELD — Three plays. That’s all that Jeff Williams thinks kept Giles from defeating Radford last week and clinching its fifth Three Rivers District title in the last six years.

Actually, it might be less than that.

“Take those three plays — hey, take one of them — and I feel like we finish on top,” said Williams, whose Spartans lost 23-19, having been outscored 20-6 after the break. “It just wasn’t meant to be.”

It won’t take long for Giles to get another shot at the Bobcats. They’ll meet Friday in the Region C, Division 2 playoffs in Radford at 7:30 p.m.

“Nothing is going to change,” said Williams, in his second season since replacing Steve Ragsdale. “We’ll be blocking and tackling again on a Friday night.”

Williams is especially anxious for the blocking part. He didn’t think the Spartans did that well, but they have an excuse. Six-foot-3, 290-pound guard Justin Farmer is playing with a cast after breaking his hand in two weeks ago against Floyd County, while Ryan Lucas is out with a dislocated elbow.

“I think we can do a better job of blocking,” Williams said. “After watching the videotape, we had success with them, we had good yardage rushing, we had over 300 yards of total offense and we had two backs with over 100 yards rushing.

“I just didn’t think we blocked very well. We didn’t block as well as I think we can block. We’ve got to get back out there every day, Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, and get back to blocking.”

Giles led 13-3 at halftime against Radford, but were immediately penalized 15 yards for coming out of the locker room late. Radford responded to the short field, and scored a touchdown. The Spartans responded with a 19-play drive and a score of their own, but the Bobcats came right back.

“We kicked the ball off into the end zone and they had 80 yards to go,” Williams said. “We got confused on defense a little, we were late getting lined up and they busted two plays for 80 yards, and we had kept them hemmed up pretty good all night.

“We were moving the ball on our next possession, but we threw an interception and they returned it 70 yards for the score. Two big running plays and that interception turned the whole ball game.”

Making their seventh straight playoff appearance, the three-time state champion Spartans haven’t changed during that time. They still run the single wing, led by fullback Justin Gautier, who had 128 yards against the Bobcats.

Andrew Eppling and Travis Robertson have split the duties at halfback for the Spartans. Gautier is also among the walking wounded. He’s questionable for Friday after suffering a case of turf toe.

“Andrew and Travis have done a great job for us,” Williams said. “They’ve been splitting time at the tailback spot — our premier running back spot.

“They have shared every other play in practice. That was my plan going into the season and it has worked out really good for us.”

What hasn’t been kind is the injury bug. Williams said the injuries started to mount for Giles against Floyd County when Farmer and Lucas were both hurt, and the Buffaloes’ best player even suffered a broken ankle.

“We made it through three-fourths of the season pretty good,” Williams said. “That Floyd County game two weeks ago, it just hit us. That is always a tough and rough football game.”

Radford is led by quarterback Dontae Carter, who Williams refers to as a Tyrod Taylor-Michael Vick type. Carter had 92 yards rushing and a touchdown, and threw for 45 more. Kevin Adkins added 91 yards, while Corey Dark picked off the Eppling pass and returned it for the score.

D.J. Palmer, a transfer from Christiansburg, leads the Bobcats in rushing, while Josh Oliver is a force on the defensive line.

“They’ve got a good little running back, but they’re really athletic, a typical Radford football team,” Williams said. “They’ve got a kid playing defensive tackle who is one heck of a football player and their quarterback is a special player.

“They are a typical Radford High School football team. They’re real athletic, they move around well on defense, and they’ve got athletes on offense.”

Even with the injuries that have plagued Giles, especially on the depleted offensive line, Williams won’t allow the Spartans to use that as an excuse.

“We just have to get in there with the kids we got.” Williams said, “and cut out the turnovers and not make the penalties and cut down the mental mistakes and I think we’ll be OK.”

Williams has placed extra emphasis on blocking this week in practice, hoping that will help the Spartans get past the Bobcats, and advance to the Region C semifinals next week at George Wythe.

“That’s what we always do, but we feel like we can block a little bit better,” Williams said. “We’ve got one with a broken hand and one with a dislocated elbow so we’re getting a little thin.

“We don’t have a lot to go on, but the other night they did a pretty good for us. They played hard and played pretty physical, but we just didn’t come out on top in the game.”

Making the playoffs is nothing new for the Spartans, who have compiled an 8-5 record in the postseason since their current string of appearances began in 2003. Giles won the state title in 2005, and lost in the finals in ‘06.

The Spartans fell to Chilhowie last season, Giles’ first opening round exit since ‘03.

“This is our seventh year in a row in the playoffs and that’s a nice accomplishment in itself,” Williams said. “I hope we can go over and play the best we can on Friday night and see what happens.”

Bluefield Daily Telegraph
P.O. Box 1599
928 Bluefield Avenue
Bluefield, W.Va. 24701


No comments: