Rangers aim to build on first win

By Marvin Birchfield
STAR STAFF
mbirchfield@starhq.com
After grabbing their first victory of the season last week, the Rangers attempt to keep the momentum going by turning away Twin Springs, Va. this Friday.
Unaka got off to a slow start with their first two games, but last Friday it was able to bust out of its shell, cruising to a 46-19 win over King's Academy.
The Rangers were stout up front, and that's something they'll have to continue this week in order to beat Twin Springs, which is 2-1 so far this season.
Unaka worked this week on trying to iron out the wrinkles in its offense, which it has strengthened over the past three contest by eliminating the amount of turnovers.
"We had a good week of practice and with this time of year you usually get into a routine, and Monday you go over the mistakes you made the previous week," said Unaka coach Mike Ensor.
The preparation for the Rangers' upcoming opponent is vital, though, as little is known about Twins Springs since its an out-of-state team, and not a lot of information is shared to any of the local schools.
"This week was a little different because we weren't able to get a film until Tuesday," said Ensor. "We did get a scouting report from some other coaches and went from that aspect to put a game plan together for them."
Twin Springs is nearly a mirror image of Unaka. It likes to move the ball on the ground, and passing through the air is limited.
"It looks like they're going to be a team a lot like us, in being predominately run oriented, but they will throw the ball some if they have to," said Ensor. "They're pretty much a physical, double tight-end hit you in the nose type, and it should be a pretty good ball game."
It appears to building up to a hard-fought punch em' in the mouth type of game, and the Rangers must be able to take their licks and stand their ground with the same kind of retaliation.
"Defensively we're going to try to make them throw the ball to beat us. They like to run the ball and are more tackle-oriented and come right at you," said Ensor. "I think that fits more into what we like to do defensively, and we're hoping our strength will offset their strength and make them do some things they don't want to do."
The Rangers have had some success with running the ball so far, but they've struggled with their passing attack, which they hope will improve.
"We've worked on it this week with individual pass routes, and Brandon Irick had a good day of throwing, along with our receivers, who were catching it," said Ensor. "We're not going to come out and throw it 25 times, but we have to be able to throw a little bit to keep people honest and from stacking men in the box. We have to be able to turn the corner or throw the ball against them."
As far as the ground game goes, Unaka looked to be hitting on all eight cylinders last week with sophomore tailback Charles Guinn being named state 1-A player of the week by the TSSAA.
"Charles got the TSSAA player of the week with 160 yards on just four carries, which is a phenomenal average," said Ensor. "He and Cody Hurley were the fastest kids on the field last week, and our kids did a good job of getting them to the second level, and once they did the speed took over."
Twins Springs possibly has a slight advantage on the line, but when it comes to the speedsters, then the favor might be in the corner of the Rangers.
"Talking to other coaches and looking at film they might be a little bigger than us up front, but we may have a speed advantage on them which could play into our favor," said Ensor.
Joey Parlier will make his second consecutive start from the tight-end position, and his chances at getting to return to the backfield are not probable, but not necessarily out of the question either.
"We moved him up last week and will continue to move him around. He is just starting to get his strength back now," said Ensor. "We don't know if it's an ulcer or a hernia, but he's lost 20 pounds. We're going to continue to move him around and keep the pressure off him."
Unaka's gameplan on offense will still be establish the run between the tackles and move the chains down the field with its big fullback leading the way.
"We're looking to establish the inside with expectations of Andrew Richardson having a big game, and possibly even Joey getting a few carries," said Ensor. "Andrew brings a little more to the table. He's up to 210 pounds, whereas Joey is down to 175 pounds. He's a little bit more of a bruiser in there between the tackles, which hopefully will open our misdirection up to allow Charles and Cody to turn the corners and take a couple on to the house."