Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

September 26, 2013

Dawgs, Rams can distribute the goods

Plenty of hands in point basket for Raceland, Lawrence

Aaron Snyder
The Independent

RACELAND — Kickoff: 7:30 p.m.

Last Year: Raceland won 54-14

Series: Raceland leads 13-12

Radio: WZAQ 92.3-FM

If your appetite calls for variety, feast your eyes on Friday night’s Lawrence County-Raceland football game.

These high-scoring offenses resemble a bag of assorted candy found in grocery store aisles at Halloween time.

No matter who gets the ball, the results have been pretty sweet so far for both teams. Each heads into the series’ 26th overall meeting with 4-1 records.

Both coaches were quick to compliment their upcoming opponent.

“They have so many weapons,” said Raceland coach T.J. Maynard of the Bulldogs. “You have to be so disciplined (on defense).”

Said Lawrence County coach Joe Cecil of the Rams: “They can beat you in a plethora of ways.”

Lawrence County is the second-highest scoring team in Class 3A, in terms of average, at 48 points per game. Raceland (43.6 PPG) is third in Class A in that department. The Rams are ranked No. 6 in the latest Associated Press poll. Lawrence County is unranked, but is receiving votes.

Raceland runs a spread offense with quarterback Adam Elkins in the driver’s seat. Elkins frequently finds the trusty hands of receivers Connor Messer and Rodney Vance — the duo has accounted for 30 catches (of Elkins’s 48 completions) and 450 yards (of Elkins’s 707 passing).

Daylin Beach leads the Rams with 566 rushing yards, but the senior may be ineligible to play Friday.

Beach was flagged for his second unsportsmanlike conduct penalty after the final whistle was blown during last Friday’s 42-33 defeat of Coal Grove. One official signaled for his ejection, but no confirmation of his ineligibility had been received as of Wednesday, according to Maynard.

Raceland reported the ejection to the KHSAA, but the Rams won’t know for sure until today whether or not Beach can play Friday.

“We’re approaching it like he’s not going to play,” Maynard said.

Beach’s absence will leave a notable void in an already depleted backfield. Senior Zack Litteral is out for the season with a torn labrum.

Kane Snyder, though, has been a “pleasant surprise” as a sophomore, said Maynard. Snyder rushed for 66 yards and a TD on Friday. He is averaging 7.3 yards per carry.

After not playing last season, Lawrence County senior running back Derek Ferguson has taken several teams by surprise himself. Ferguson ran 10 times for 257 yards in Lawrence County’s 66-33 blowout of East Carter.

Cecil had plenty of credit to dispense for Ferguson’s numbers.

“I know Derek had a big game. I’m very happy for him, he’s worked hard for that,” Cecil said. “He was also aided by what (quarterback A.J. Cyrus) was able to do.”

Both seniors, Cyrus and Elkins are among the elite quarterbacks in the area.

“They’re both competitive, both run their systems very well,” Cecil said. “You can just tell they have experience to go with that.”

Cyrus can gun it — he’s completed 15 throws (14 to Timmy Dalton and Noah Lambert) — and run it. He’s carried 65 times for 605 yards.

“The Cyrus kid is unbelievable as a leader,” Maynard said. “He makes the right decisions and runs that belly (option) attack.”

Fullback Ricky Goble has battled through a couple of ankle sprains, but he’s coming off his best performance of the year (19 rushes, 146 yards).

“When he’s in there, he’s tough as nails,” Maynard commented about Goble.

Neither team is a “one-horse” squad, as Cecil likes to put it, and both coaches are looking to their big horses up front to pave the way on Friday.

Raceland’s offensive line is sizeable and senior-laden. Lawrence County’s starting front five also offers experience, but not as much physical presence.

“We’re not small, but they go 280, 290, 290, 240 and 250,” Cecil said with a laugh.

The Rams’ O-line encountered its most physical foe last week in Coal Grove.

“They were so darn big and physical,” said Maynard, a former offensive lineman who stands at 6-foot-5. “They had one guy bigger than me! It was a big, physical team that went foot to foot with us.”

To go along with the variety theme, Maynard said the Rams have seen no two opponents the same to this point.

“We have a diverse schedule,” he said. “We got a look at Ashland, with (Quinton) Baker and those guys. We got to see Coal Grove, who lines up and pounds on you. Now, we’ve got Lawrence County, who’s very diverse on offense.”

Both teams begin district play after this week.

AARON SNYDER can be reached at asnyder@dailyindependent.com or (606) 326-2664.