West Greene has head start  on Longhorns

By Jeff Birchfield
STAR Staff

   Assuredly Dave Mason wasn't talking about Mike Atwood and Barry Carter when he sang, "There's only you and me and we just disagree."
   Both Atwood, the football coach of the Johnson County Longhorns, and Carter, his counterpart for the West Greene Buffaloes, feel the Buffs playing last Friday is a plus in this Friday's matchup between their two teams.
   "We're concerned about that some," admitted 'Horns coach Atwood. "They have that actual game experience. Don't take it wrong. We're tired of lining up against each other in practice. We're ready to play and we are looking forward to Friday night."
   In an agreeable tone, Carter stated: "It has to be a little advantage. We did get a couple of dings, but nothing serious. There's nothing like experience. This team will get better as the year goes along."
   While West Greene did get game experience, the bad news was it was in a 42-6 loss to Cherokee.
   "They dominated us pretty good," said Carter. "I don't know how much closer we could have made it if we played better. The kids tried as a whole, but Cherokee is probably the most physical team we will face all year.
   "Playing Cherokee will probably help us not get too overwhelmed on Friday. It's like that saying about whatever doesn't kill you will make you stronger."
   Atwood went to Mosheim last week to scout the Buffaloes and liked much of what he saw. West Greene has plenty of offensive weapons with quarterback Anthony Beach and receivers David Coburn and Josh Pitts. They also try to create open-field matchups for running backs Jake Schuck and Eric Large.
   "They throw the ball awful well," said Atwood, whose team likes to operate from either a 4-3 or 5-0 defense. "They run an isolation running game. Those are the two things that concern me.
   "Defending those quick outs is what we're working on in practice. We have to get our linebackers out there in the flats, changing our pass coverage a little bit. Jeremy Garece looked good in drills and practice getting out there quickly."
   Against Johnson County, it's a safe bet West Greene will see its share of the power-I especially since quarterback Jeffrey Brinker will be making his first start. There should also be more plays this season with a split back set where the 'Horns can utilize the skills of Nathan Paisley.
   "We've played against them before and we've seen them move it on film," said Carter. "They're coming right at you and they are going to be physical."
   Last week, an Achilles heel was the Buffs' kick coverage. However, West Greene can be dangerous on special teams themselves with Coburn and Jack Schuck both having the ability of game breakers.
   The teams and coaching staffs bring two different philosophies to the game. Like most area teams, the Longhorns rely on plenty of two-way players. On offense Daniel Cranford is the 'Horns No. 1 tailback, while on defense he's a nose guard who's tough for the opposition to block.
   The Buffaloes, on the other hand, take a collegiate-type approach as only two players see time both offensively and defensively. Their aim is to keep players fresh and allow as many kids on the field as possible. An example is that while Phillip Gentry, Billy Gregg and Josh Hensley all play on the WG offensive line, the defensive line has Jonathan Nose, Matt Tweed, Justin Bryant and Chad Bowman as starters.
   Both coaches expressed optimism at this early stage of the season about their teams.
   "We are really inexperienced at key places, but I like this team," said Carter, who has lost 35 pounds in an off-season diet. "Every team has a personality. This is going to be a special team before it's done."
   For Atwood, he wants to see the 1-9 season posted by the Longhorns in 2002 quickly erased.
   "We feel like we will have a better season," said Atwood, whose team made it to the playoffs in 2000, the last year they were in the Watauga Conference with West Greene. "Last year didn't hurt our mental attitude. We are still up around 50 kids dressing out, with 38 kids from grades 10 to 12. I feel like we're doing pretty good."
   Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m. at Paul McEwen Stadium in Mountain City.