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Hurricane seeks 2 in a row over Capital

For years, Hurricane was beat before it ever stepped on the field against Capital.

The Redskins lost seven of the first nine meetings, with five losses by at least 21 points. But that all changed last year.

Hurricane's 14-7 win at Laidley Field shook a few skeletons out of the closet and gives the Redskins hope for tonight's matchup in Putnam County. Kickoff is set for 7:30.

"We can beat anybody if we play,'' said Jeremy Taylor, Hurricane's first-year coach. "We've got enough talent. We've just got to have the want-to - and that's what they did to them last year.

"If we could do what they did to them last year . . . we didn't do a whole lot on offense. We had about 200 yards. Where they beat them was defensively. I was watching that game on film this week and I just saw our guys swarming to the ball, getting after people. That was the difference.''

Each team could use a boost tonight following recent adversity.

Hurricane (2-2) was idle last weekend after dropping back-to-back games to Woodrow Wilson and George Washington. Capital saw its 3-0 start soiled last Friday with a 20-17 loss to South Charleston, which trailed 17-0 at halftime. It cost the Cougars, who dropped from sixth to 10th in the Class AAA ratings.

Capital coach Jon Carpenter thinks his players are more concerned with what happened last week instead of last year against Hurricane.

"Probably most of those guys' motivation comes from last week,'' Carpenter said. "Last year's too far away for them. It doesn't bother them as much as falling apart last week. They're anxious to get back and redeem themselves. They feel like they're a half away from being mentioned as a real good team.''

Another reason Capital would like to forget last year's game with Hurricane was the fact it lost its top two running backs to injury early in the game, a bout of misfortune that snowballed for the Cougars in the weeks to come. They lost several more key players and saw a 4-0 start disintegrate into a 5-5 season.

"I think our kids are excited to play,'' Carpenter said. "They're excited about that challenge. They know how good Hurricane is. They follow the stats and all that stuff.

"The good thing about it when you're sitting around and hiding your face all weekend - I know I did last weekend - you start worrying, and you feel like you've disappointed the whole town. You want another chance to make some people proud of you. So far they've practiced like a team that's embarrassed, and I've tried to coach them like a team that's embarrassed.''

Hurricane's Taylor was also in the doldrums during his team's bye week, beating himself up for his play-calling during the consecutive losses.

"I haven't been happy,'' Taylor said. "Part of it's my fault with play-calling that's been stupid on my part. We've got two, three kids who are horses. I keep preaching all the time about the home run hitters we have, and I'm not getting them the ball enough.

"You look at Ryan Switzer. [George Washington] gave it to him 31 times when we played them. I have Zach Pate, and he only carries four, five times for me. That's just dumb on my part. I've got to remedy that and get the ball to Pate and [Steven] Handley. If we do that, they'll make things happen.''

Taylor realizes Capital's big-play offense usually goes through freshman quarterback Tyhree Pratt, who completes 63 percent of his passes and has thrown 10 touchdowns without an interception.

"They've got a heck of a quarterback, but it's not just him,'' Taylor said. "It's not all about one player. They've got some running backs who can run the ball, and the line does a decent job protecting him. He can make any offensive line look great. He's great out of the pocket, and when he starts to run downfield or gets close to the line of scrimmage, he can stop and throw it 60 yards and no one's near the guy [catching the ball].''

Capital senior safety Davon Tyson, who injured a shoulder last week, is not expected to play, which would snap his string of 26 straight starts.

Reach Rick Ryan at 304-348-5175 or rickryan@wvgazette.com.


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