Tonight will truly be a test for the SouthWest Edgecombe Cougars to see how much improvement they have made during the course of the season so far.
Head coach Raymond Cobb has three keys he is relying on for his team to be successful against the Hunt Warriors tonight in Pinetops. The game was moved to tonight because of the holiday weekend.
Cobb said his team has to come out and play with just as much intensity as Hunt does to stay in the game.
The second key for the Cougars to be successful is going to be to stop Hunt's running back Joshua Joyner. He has put up some impressive numbers this season through two games. He has only played four quarters of football and has scored seven touchdowns.
The main key is for Cobb and his Cougars offense is to control the football. Cobb is known for chewing up the clock and having long extensive drives that eat up time.
Last year, Hunt defeated SouthWest 28-8.
Hunt is not the only team with an impact player, because the Cougars have their own impact player, senior running back Gerald Hinton. He rushed for 207 yards on 15 carries and scored three TDs last week against North Edgecombe.
Through two games, Hinton has 25 carries for 271 yards and has scored six TDs. He is averaging 12 and half carries for 135 yards per game and three TDs. He is averaging 10.8 yards a carry. Hinton also has 80 yards receiving.
Coming off of a tough non-conference game against North Edgecombe, Cobb said his team had some things they needed to work on before they played Hunt.
The players were very receptive to improvement fundamentally during the short week of practice for the Cougars.
"We have done a lot of defensive fundamental work this week to prepare for our game against a very talented Hunt team," Cobb said. "We worked all week at every defensive position. I felt like we had good workouts on Monday and Tuesday."
The Cougars have made some changes to their defensive line to adapt to the strengths of Hunt's offense.
Cobb said at the linebacker spots, they have made some great improvements during the week with the young group of linebackers.
"A couple of the young guys lights clicked on Tuesday," Cobb said. "I hope that is a key for us and hopefully they understand what we are looking for."
The defensive end spot has been big for the Cougars this season, because they are still trying to find the right personnel to play that spot.
"We were not happy with the way we played defense Friday," Cobb said. "North Edgecombe had something to do with that because they took it right at us but we need to improve."
On the offensive side of the ball this week, the Cougars get one of their key linemen back. Eric Webb was out last week and played against Southern Nash with a hurt shoulder the entire game. The doctor cleared him to play last week, but Cobb decided to sit him out to make sure he was 100 percent for the game tonight.
The Cougars have to continue to improve offensively, because Hinton is the only running back that has stepped up and made big plays for the Cougars through the first two games.
SouthWest has a deep core of running backs who have varsity experience. One of the backs that Cobb is hoping to step up is Milton Ransome. He came on last year around the fourth week of the season and was named a starter after earning it.
"We have the kids that are capable of making some big plays for us besides Gerald Hinton," Cobb said. "Gerald needs some help in the back field and I am expecting to see an impact player step up and make some plays for us."