BY DENNIS CLAYTON
East Union will go on the road Friday and face the Mantachie Mustangs in an important Division 1-2A football matchup between teams with identical records.
“It’s a big week for us, they’re 5-2 and we’re 5-2, both of us are 1-0 in division,” East Union Head Coach Kevin Walton said. “I think this is a big point in our season in what we’ve worked to get to and we’re working hard this week.”
The Mustangs will feature a run-oriented offense and are averaging 238 yards on the ground so far this season.
“They run out of the triple option and it’s going to be tough to stop,” Walton said. “It’s got to be assignment football and that’s going to be a big part of winning this football game. On both sides of the ball, we are going to have win the line of scrimmage and I think that will take care of itself. They try to have long-sustained drives with their option offense and we’ve told our guys all week that first down is going to be a key down when we’re on defense. We want to hold them to three yards or less on first down and put them in second and long.
Mantachie’s ground attack is led by quarterback Tristen Daniel and Logan Pettigo. Daniel has 94 carries for 552 yards while Pettigo has 96 carries for 643 yards. Both players have rushed for seven touchdowns.
Daniel has only attempted 36 passes, completing 12 for 368 yards and five touchdowns. His favorite receiver is Trey Hughes who has nine catches for 309 yards for a 34.3 yard average and four touchdowns.
The Mustang defense is led by linebackers Brandon Loden (74 tackles) and Brison Loden (61 tackles).
“They will operate out of a 3-5 defense and attack us,” Walton said. “We have just got to be ready.”
Joel Wilkinson will return for the Urchins at running back after missing four games with a foot injury and will see spot action on Friday. Craig Hutchens, Chase Hall and Reid Raines led the Urchins to a 340 yard rushing total against Byers last Friday.
‘If we win this ballgame we will be assured a playoff spot and that was our goal at the beginning of the season, just to make the playoffs,” Walton said. “If we win this game, we will be sitting good for the next three division games coming up. We are sort of calling this our rivalry game, we’re trying to make this a big game year in and year out. We’ve never beat them since we’ve started playing and we’re wanting to get that first win. That’s what we’re working toward.”
Another 5-2 (1-0) Division 1-2A team, Baldwyn, will play at H.W. Byers (1-6, 0-1) on Friday. Walnut (3-4, 0-1) will travel to Potts Camp (1-6, 0-1) in the other division matchup.
Kickoff for all games is 7:00.