When asked how his FPD team would attempt to stop a Stratford offense that is averaging close to 35 points per game, Vikings head coach Greg Moore sat back in his chair, thought for a minute and came up with a diplomatic answer.
“I’m not sure whether we can stop it or not,” Moore said. “But I sure hope that we can contain it and live to see another play.”
The two teams meet Friday night at Stratford in their GHSA Region 7A-A opener, with both teams sporting a 2-2 record. To make matters even more interesting, the teams are tied this week at 14th in the GHSA Class A private school power ratings.
“This is certainly the part of the year where all of the offseason work and the non-region schedule is supposed to have you ready to play,” said Moore, whose team lost 28-21 to Stratford a year ago. “So far, our defense has come around faster than our offense, but we are still getting better on both sides of the ball. Hopefully, we will play good enough to win on Friday night, but we don’t want it to end up being our best game of the year. We want to play that later in the year.”
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The FPD defense, led by the front line of Daniel Weaver, Denson Martin and freshman Wesley Wilson, has given up only 73 points, and 38 of those came against Class AAAA team Howard. Meanwhile, the offense has struggled at times, getting shut out in the first half against Monticello and for the entire game against Lincoln County in a 14-0 loss last week.
“I know we are not really showing our improvement on offense on Friday night, but I see us getting better every Monday through Thursday,” said Moore, who relies on senior quarterback Will McCormick to lead the way. “We have to be able to do a better job of ending possessions with either scoring or kicking it away. Turnovers have killed us so far.”
Stratford has struggled a bit on defense, giving up 116 points in its first three games before holding GMC to six last weekend.
“I was definitely happier after the GMC game because it was a step in the right direction,” Stratford head coach Mark Farriba said. “We were 2-2 heading into the FPD game last year, too, and I think at that time we were searching for some answers on offense. This year, it has reversed itself. We feel pretty comfortable on offense but have had to make some defensive changes. “
The Eagles have plenty of firepower on offense. Quarterback Sim Patrick has thrown for 426 yards and seven touchdowns, and last year’s quarterback, Quintez Cephus, has made the move to wide receiver, showing big play ability with 16 catches for 323 yards and six touchdowns.
O’Showen Williams, who missed the game against GMC, is averaging 11 yards per carry.
“I watched the Lincoln County game, and they looked very aggressive on defense with some strong skill players on defense,” Farriba said of the Vikings. “I really feel like whoever is able to run their basic plan and not turn the ball over will win the game.”