ATLANTA — The Atlanta Rabbits have their work cut out Friday as they take on the Pleasant Grove Hawks at Hawk Stadium for homecoming.
The Hawks are undefeated with a 7-0 record and 1-0 mark in district play while the Rabbs are 3-3 with an 0-1 ledger in district play.
“Pleasant Grove is very, very good,” head coach Matt McClure said Monday on the weekly “Coaches Show” from the Rabbit Patch. “The game against Gilmer if you just watch the film wasn’t, to me, as close as the score indicated. I thought PG dominated them offensively and defensively throughout the game as they have. They held Liberty-Eylau to 14 points. We got to see them play Paris and held Paris to 14 points. Those are really two explosive offenses that are 4-wides, kind of like us. So, we’re going to look at what we’re doing obviously and not change it a whole bunch, but we’re going to get into a few different sets and try to give us a chance to run the football and things like that. But they’re really, really good.”
The Hawks’ Wing-T offense tallied 487 rushing yards against Gilmer at Jeff Traylor Stadium as part of 536 yards total offense.
“I think we’re going to have to play with extraordinary effort, especially up front because the size mismatches is pretty big,” said McClure. “They’re really, really big offensively and defensively up front. So, we got to find ways to get angles on those guys and get them blocked. And we’ve got to find ways to get penetration up front and we got to long-shoulder some blocks.”
The challenge for the Rabbs is they only have three days to prepare for Pleasant Grove’s run-heavy offense. Even with a week’s worth of preparation, Gilmer was unable to curtail the Hawks on the ground.
Nonetheless, the Rabbs have had Pleasant Grove’s number. Not since a 33-12 loss in Texarkana in 2010 has Atlanta ever fallen to the Hawks under McClure, who acknowledges the climb will be steep Friday.
Said McClure: “We’re hoping we’re going to have a good plan. Basically, it’s hard to stunt against this stuff simply because of all the angles and the gap blocks, but we got to do a really good job of aligning and reading our keys and reacting and being physical up front.”
It’s not about the start, but the finish
The Pittsburg Pirates demolished the Rabbs 43-19 in the district opener, but didn’t demoralize them.
“There’s not a whole lot of difference between a lot of us to be honest,” McClure said. “So, we’ve just got to take care of our business. We’ve got to play with a lot more fire and intensity regardless of how the game turns out. And I think when you do that, you can be proud of your kids.”
The Rabbs are 0-1 along with Gilmer and Spring Hill while Pleasant Grove, Pittsburg, and Gladewater are each 1-0 in the 4A-2 Region II District 7 standings. But Coach McClure knows those marks are subject to extreme change as the autumn winds blow across East Texas.
“I think there is that mix,” said McClure. “You’ve just got to look at your games you got to win and know that some teams you may be tied with when it comes down to the end. But I think this district is so competitive.”
Hear the Rabbs take on the Hawks Friday at 7:30 p.m. on KPYN 900 AM/95.5 FM with Bubba Kirkland and Rick Blackwood on the call.