Thursday night brings the first game of the 2014 season for the East Union Urchins.
This year, the Urchins begin on the road, facing the Houlka Wildcats who will meet East Union at Okolona High School.
Similar to the Urchins situation in previous years, Houlka does not have its own football field.
“I’m happy with where we are, we’ve got a long way to go, but I feel like we’ve had a good two weeks of practice,” East Union coach Scott Duley said. “I feel like our offense is where I wanted it to be at this point and we made an adjustment of defense this week that I think is really going to help us.”
East Union enters the contest healthy and the Urchins hope to remain healthy through the season due to depth issues.
Duley expects Houlka to run a 4-3 defense and probably some spread on offense.
The Wildcats will occasionally run a heavy package out of the I formation.
Players to watch for Houlka include Tyreque Reed at quarterback, Quintavin Beaty and Wyatt Easterly at running back.
The Wildcats return six players on offense and defense from 2013.
“They had some really good-looking athletes last year and I know they will again this year,” Duley said. “They have a new coach and you’d expect that they are going to come out and play really hard. We don’t have any film on them, but we know as much as we can.”
Duley said they Urchins will really begin to focus on the Wildcats in practice this week. The practices up until now have been more about the Urchins and what they will do in game situations.
East Union will have a new face at quarterback as Lane Plunk will make his first start at the position on Thursday. Plunk played receiver last year.
“He’s coming and this is going
to be the only year he will play the position, so he’s learning,” Duley said. “He progressed very quickly in what we hoped for and expected. Now the little things are what we are going to have to work on: clean hand-offs, setting your feet and squaring your shoulders. Those things are going to take a little longer to perfect.”
Keys to victory on Thursday night will be turnovers and defense, Duley said.
“That’s the way I feel about every game that we go into,” Duley said. “If you are on the plus side on turnovers and your defense plays well, then you’re going to always have a chance to win the game. If either one of those goes badly or both go badly, you’re in trouble.”
Houlka and East Union are set for a 7 p.m. kick-off.