A short week of preparation should not diminish the striking power of the Lone Grove offense as it heads to Alumni Field to take on the Madill Wildcats tonight. The Longhorns are riding a high in their 2013 offensive firepower under first-year head coach Jeremy Turner. An opening week 61-21 loss to Marlow proved to be a powerful proving ground for Lone Grove. Since that game, the Longhorns are 5-0 and are averaging 58 points a game. By contrast, the Wildcats are giving up 47 points a game in district contests.
Lone Grove must find a way to get by Madill to keep pace with Plainview and Dickson, all three of which are 3-0 in District 3A-4. The last win for the Longhorns in this series was a 31-20 victory in 2006. Lone Grove lost a close 26-25 game in 2008, but for the most part, the Wildcats have won easily in the last six years. Turner believes two key elements must be present in order for his Longhorns to break the Madill winning streak.
"First and foremost is that we cannot turn the ball over," Turner said. "Turnovers kill your offensive momentum, and they give momentum back to the other team. The other key for us is we cannot allow Madill to keep the ball for long, sustained offensive drives that result in touchdowns. We must have quick defensive stops to get our offense back on to the field. The longer our defense is outs there, the more it will disrupt our offensive game plan.
Turner has watched his Longhorns buy into his super-fast game control offense. Despite the loss to Marlow, he believes the players had already started to get a feel for how the offense should be run.
"We did a better job in week two against Tishomingo," Turner said. "Things began to click for us, and we have built on the process every week. Now our goal is to get 80 offensive snaps in for a game. We have been on target most games. We want to be able to snap the football just as soon as they will let us. In recent weeks we have gotten better at running things the way they are designed to be run."
Turner has high praise for his quarterback, sophomore Grant Harmon. He is equally impressed with the performance of sophomore running back, Jeremy Lewis, and senior Terry Rowe, who plays on both offense and defense.
"Grant has over 1200 yards and 20 touchdowns rushing and passing," Turner said. "Those are great numbers for him. Jeremy gets better every week and had more than 400 yards In last week's game. Terry is a great senior leader on both offense and defense. You have to be pretty good to be as solid as he is on both sides of the ball. And I can't say enough about our five offensive linemen. They are coming off the ball well and sustaining their blocks down the field. Right now everything is clicking for us, and we look forward to the challenge of taking on Madill at their place."
Kickoff is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. tonight at Alumni Field in Madill.