The Lone Grove Longhorns had one of their best defensive outings last week against Pauls Valley. Despite a field goal late in the fourth that gave the Panthers the victory, Lone Grove coach Kenny Ridley is pleased with the development of the Longhorn defense.
This week, the Longhorns get the challenge of District 3A-4 co-leader Madill (6-0, 3-0).
"We had quite a few players from last year that have taken things a step further this year," Ridley said. "The guys have a better grasp of our defensive schemes this year. And we have excellent leadership out on the field. Plus, we have gained valuable experience from some of the teams we have played. We saw one of the state's best passing teams when we played Frederick."
Ridley believes one of the keys of last week's outing was the number of players that shared playing time.
"We played a lot of people last week against Pauls Valley," Ridley said. "We probably use 18-20 players throughout the game. And that helps us keep fresh bodies out there. Our defensive rotation is important. And the maturity we gained earlier in the season helped us to the point that we can play many people without any drop off in talent."
Ridley understands the challenge facing the Longhorns when they take on the 10th ranked Wildcats tonight at Longhorn Field.
"We'll have our hands full because they have a good offensive scheme," Ridley said. "They have size up front, and their skilled players are excellent athletes. (Paten) Bond is a great athlete, and he is deceptive in that he finds holes well.
"One of our keys this week is to be fundamentally sound in our tackling. We have to stick with the man with the ball until he is down."
Ridley is encouraged about the up side on his offensive unit as well.
"We are finally getting some continuity along our offensive line," Ridley said. "Injuries hurt us early, and we were shorthanded. Now, we're beginning to get those people healthy, and it's helping with our blocking schemes."
Lone Grove enters tonight's game at 3-3, 2-1 in District 3A-4.