'Landers reload for Indians

By Travis Brown

   The much-anticipated rematch has become reality. This Friday night will see familiar uniforms pay a visit to Orr Field in the form of the Powell Valley Indians.
   Coming off their first-ever playoff win, the Indians played well against the Highlanders in the regular-season meeting between these two teams, only to come out on the losing end.
   The second-half success they found throwing the football has left a bad taste in the mouth of 'Lander fans and should make for a heated contest this Friday.
   Disappointed with his defensive effort from the last matchup, head coach Mike Lunsford has worked hard during this week of preparation to prevent the Powell Valley passing attack.
   "We're going to play a little different on defense," Lunsford said. "We may move some people around a little."
   Indian wide out Rusty Loza racked up over 200 yards receiving in the first meeting, and Lunsford has decided place more defensive emphasis on stopping the speedy receiver.
   "We might move Byrd from his free safety spot and place him in man situations," Lunsford said. "I hope we do the same things we've been doing, but we must do them better."
   The advantage for Powell Valley should remain in the passing game as it saw great success throwing the football in the first contest. With the Cloudland defense cracking down on their finest receiver, quarterback Corey Russell will have to spread the wealth in order to be effective.
   Lunsford is also focused on slowing down the Indian ground game. The Indians managed to run the ball with limited success against the 'Lander front.
   The veer offense featured by Powell Valley is about angular pursuit and the 'Landers have worked hard to solve the defensive shortcomings of the previous contest.
   "We've worked extensively on understanding them better. We will make some adjustments on offense too," Lunsford said.
   Offensively, the 'Landers enjoyed a good deal of success in the first matchup. Posting 44 points on the board was an impressive showing. However, Lunsford says they must stay aware of the Indians defensive unit.
   "We have to be ready for the adjustments they make on us," Lunsford said. "We want to throw some screen passes and do some other things."
   All season long Lunsford has stressed improvement as priority one for the Highlander football team. This week will give the Highlanders a chance to prove just how far they have come in the weeks since the trip to Speedwell.
   "We need to execute better," Lunsford said. "They run the ball well and they kept us off balance, we have to do a better job."
   While the Highlanders are focused on getting better, they have plenty to be proud of. A convincing regular season and impressive playoff showing against Midway last week have proved that Cloudland is once again ready for a run to Murfreesboro.
   Fans on Roan Mountain will see a Highlander football team that is running on all cylinders this Friday. If all goes well for Lunsford and his troops, this rematch may become nothing more than a mere exhibition.
   However if the Indians bring their "A" game, this contest could prove to be a stumbling block for the pass susceptible Highlanders
   Kickoff is set for 7.