NEW CASTLE —
"That first game we started fast like we always want to do," the Hornets coach said. "We were up 7-0 and we turned it over. They answered by scoring right away. We're not happy with the mistakes we made. However, clearly Wilmington through three-and-a-half quarters was the much better team. We need to improve on that."
The gameplan has been the same for the Greyhounds all season. Tyler Donati, who leads the county in rushing with 1,571 yards on 183 carries and 20 touchdowns, will be called on to pound the rock for Wilmington. Combined with Alex Patton and Nic Pugh, the trio brings a blend of size and speed to the ’Hounds backfield.
"Their fullback, Donati, is their best," Brest said. "He does a great job running that football on a dive, crossblock, or a fullback trap. He has great vision. His greatest asset is he's a hard-nosed physical runner. We have to be prepared for him."
If the running game struggles, the Greyhounds can fall on the strong arm of quarterback Cody Llewellyn, who has only thrown one interception this season. Placekicker Slavi Pontius provided the Greyhounds with two crucial kicks, an extra point and a 21-yard field goal, in the team's win last week.
The Hornets DeShawn Coleman is dangerous when he has his hands on the football. Any team looking to beat Hickory will make containing Coleman its top priority.
“He’ll scramble around anywhere he wants to,” Verrelli said. “He has such speed, and he cuts so well. You have to be able to move the ball on them and you have to stop Coleman and their running game. They win games on him breaking long runs. He’s very capable of that any time. It’s just a very difficult thing to stop him. It’s key to keep him over there where he belongs, on the sideline.”
A reliance on Coleman has been successful, as the Hornets average 270.5 yards rushing per game from a variety of different sets and formations.
“They like to run from a spread and a pro set. Their main set is their I-Pro set where they pitch it to Coleman,” Verrelli said. “They’ll also spread you out and run Jet.”
Hickory also has threats at the other skill positions with Matt Voytik and Michael Nardone under center and Dionte Pope and Davon Tindall being the primary receiving options . The Hornets average 41.5 points per game.
“They can pass. Their skill people are their receivers. They can run, they can catch, they’ve got some height to them. They have a couple of quarterbacks who can throw the football.”
We have to do what we have to do to keep the ball moving. We’re a running team, but if it’s throwing the football, we’ll throw the football. We have to figure a way to keep the ball moving defensively.