WASHINGTON — It has been a rough start to the 2013 football season for the Washington Hatchets (0-4), but coach Kelly Brashear believes the play of his team will improve. The Hatchets welcome Mt. Vernon (Posey) for the annual Homecoming game tonight at 8 p.m. at Hatchet Hollow. Mt. Vernon (1-3) enters the matchup coming off the first victory of the season after defeating Vincennes Lincoln 35-14.
"They are a typical Mt. Vernon team — they have some quick athletic kids," Breashear said. "They like to spread the field, but when they have to they'll also wad it up and run it right at you. Offensively they can do both, they can play a fast finesse type of an offense, but against Vincennes (Lincoln) they were able to run power right at them also."
With a lack of players coming out for football this season, Washington has had to make due with playing multiple players on both offense and defense which has caused a disadvantage in the extremely warm temperatures of August and early September. The Hatchets can't do anything at this time about most of their issues with depth, but they can focus on consistency.
"Our biggest adversary right now is fatigue in the second half — it seems like most of the four games that we have played we've played pretty decently in the first half, but with so few numbers we have just ran out of gas in this heat and humidity," Brashear said. "We have changed our lineup this week and we will have four kids (James Sidebottom, Jeffrey Harwood, Edrwin Revolorio and Jaden Arvin) going both ways instead of nine or ten that we had been. Hopefully with a few kids coming back from injuries we'll get a little bit more rest and keep the guys a little fresher."
One of the Hatchets issues this season has been starting slow in the first quarter where they have been outscored 44-13 in the opening quarter. A key to starting quickly is getting tailback Jaden Arvin off and running. Arvin has run for 572 yards and three touchdowns at a 6.9 yard-per-carry average.
"We have got to block up front a little better than we did last Friday night at North Daviess," Brashear said. "To North Daviess' credit, they had a good defense, they were big up front and they reacted well to the ball and just gave us fits. We have to do a better job, not just lineman, but our backs and receivers have to do a better job of blocking right off the bat. We have to come out physical and sustain blocks a lot better. After watching the game film there were lots of plays where we might get out on a man, but we couldn't sustain that block."
If Washington wants to come away with a win Friday night, they will have to come out with a four-quarter effort and that starts on the defensive side of the ball. The Hatchets have been outscored 190-55 this season.
"We have not played consistently on defense — we haven't been able to stop anybody," Brashear said. "We've given up more points this year at this time than I think since the first couple of years that we were here. We have to get a lot better defensively and we have to get some early three-and-outs and defense to keep our offense on the field and keep our defense off the field as much as possible."
While Washington has struggled this season, North Daviess is off to its best four-game start since 2010 with a 3-1 record. The Cougars defeated Washington for the Times Herald Highway 57 Helmet last Friday for the first time since 2008 and the first time at home in Cougar Valley. Defenses have had no answer for senior tailback Colton Lengacher, who has run for 1,106 yards and 13 touchdowns on just 105 carries.
North Daviess will welcome North Putnam to Elnora tonight at 7:30 p.m., a team they have never faced before. North Putnam will enter the contest with an 0-4 record having scored only 33 points total on the season. Despite the down year for a program that was the Class 2A state runner-up 2010, North Daviess coach Scotty Helms knows his team will have its hands full.
"We know that they have a lot of diversity offensively," Helms said. "They run a Wing-T, they run a spread, they run power. They are very difficult to prepare for defensively because they do so many different things that they kind of keep you off balance. Our No. 1 objective every game is to stop the run, we feel that a team's running game is what can hurt you in 48 minutes of football. We do think we have to be aware of their passing game, but we'll zero in on their running game. Our linebackers certainly will have to read guards — we can't be caught looking in the backfield, because in that Wing-"T offense, that's what they want to have your linebackers going the wrong way."
At this time last year, North Daviess was 1-3, coming off a heartbreaking 13-7 overtime loss at Washington, but it's a whole new story this season. The Cougars have outscored their opponents 152-82 and a dominating 28-0 in the fourth quarter. Helms says the main reason for the turnaround this year can be described in one word — confidence.
"When kids know that they have done everything they can do to prepare for a season it gives you confidence," Helms said. "You do things right in the offseason, you're going to be confident coming into the season. If you don't, I think you always have in the back of your head that the guys on the other side of the ball may have done it better or may have worked harder. We've put in the work and I think our confidence level is high because of that."
Any North Daviess opponent knows you will get a healthy dose of Lengacher, but the playaction passing game is crucial to the success of the Cougars offense. After starting the season slowly, the passing game led by senior quarterback Brady Helms has really come on the past two weeks. Helms had the momentum shifting play last week when his 50-yard touchdown pass as time expired in the second quarter put North Daviess on track to cruise to the 47-6 win over Washington.
"Our play action passing game has got to be there and really we started seeing some signs of it against Eastern Greene (Sept. 6)," Helms said. "For whatever reason our play action passing game just wasn't very good the first couple of games and then against Eastern Greene it started to get better. It's not so much our opponents inability to cover the playaction pass, but more the way we are getting it done up front with a better run fake and I think that's something we've got to have in our offense to be a very good football team."