Big Creek first-time opponent for Unaka
After receiving their first loss of the season last week, the Rangers will try to get back on track Friday night when Big Creek (W.Va.) provides the opposition.
Unaka (7-1) had a chance to grab its first conference title since the 1950s last week against Cloudland.
It was a disappointing effort for the Rangers, as they lost in a 32-6 final after scoring the first points of the game.
This week against Big Creek, the Rangers will try to forget the 'Lander landslide and focus on the Owls in the first-ever meeting between the schools.
"We've had as good as week of practice which can be expected," said Unaka coach Mike Ensor. "The kids have bounced back pretty well and they understand we just got outplayed last week. We started pressing on them after the ball game was over that we can't dwell on it and it was time to get back to work and ready to play again."
Seniors Cody Hurley and Daniel McInturff were still recovering from some minor injuries in last week's matchup, but things should be a little better for them now.
"We're still a little banged up this week, but probably not as bad as we were last week." "Cody Hurley is probably 85 percent this week and Daniel McInturff is about 90 percent, and we've had several kids with the stomach virus that's going around," said Ensor. "Other than that, we've had a pretty good week of practice."
It will be a good test for Unaka on Friday, as Big Creek is more like some of the opponents they've already faced in respect to being more finesse than physical.
"They're a wing-T oriented team a lot like us and run a lot of double wing, and when they throw the ball they run a twin set trying to get the ball to their backs out of the backfield," said Ensor. "Their backs seem to be pretty athletic from what we can tell, but we're looking to just play our game this week."
The only common oppoents for the two schools this year has been Hurley (Va.), which the Rangers disposed of in a 19-0 final the first game of the season. Big Creek defeated Hurley two weeks ago in a 23-9 contest, so there seems to be potential for a great ball game.
"Big Creek is a good team at 5-2 coming into this ball game, and they beat Hurley by about the same points that we did," said Ensor. "They don't have a whole lot of players, but they're very big and physical, so we're hoping our depth will help us out."
After dropping two out of the first three games, the Owls have rallied to score four straight wins, which ranks them 25th in the West Virginia Class 1-A polls.
"They're not going to beat themselves by throwing the football down the field and give you a chance to intercept it," said Ensor. "They're going to play field position and fundamental football along with hitting you with a lot of misdirection. We can't over pursue, and that's something we've stressed a lot this week."
Unaka is looking to get back to their winning ways by using the speed, which was something it had trouble utilizing against Cloudland.
"We're still a year away as far as the weight room goes, but maybe right now the speed and finesse game is our trait," said Ensor. "Last week we weren't able to get outside into the secondary except for the first drive, so we're going to run a lot of formations and misdirections in trying to keep them off balanced."
It's a team of two different tales from what Unaka was up against last week, so it'll will be interesting too see how the Rangers put it behind them and take the next step forward.
"It's strange to go from a team last week that was basically going to hit you in the mouth and test your manhood, and come back this week to a finesse type game, which we seem to do better against," said Ensor. "We're not at the point where we're a real physical type team, and that's where we have to continue to make strides even though we're better at it now than what we have been."