GAME DAY PREVIEW: Raiders looking for first win of season; first win at The Pit since 97
The Coffee County Red Raiders (0-7) have faced a tough schedule this season, and tonight’s district contest at Lincoln County (4-4) will be one of the most challenging yet.
The Falcons enter tonight’s game sitting alone at the top of District 8-AAA after district wins over Franklin County (35-20), Columbia Central (30-13), and Lawrence County (24-21). Lincoln County’s only district loss was a 41-0 blowout last week at Shelbyville.
LCHS will be hungry to bounce back after being manhandled by the Eagles, and they will have a distinct home field advantage at their home field, The Pit. Coffee County has not won at The Pit since 1997 and has defeated Lincoln County there only twice in the past 30 years (1997, 1981).
After racking up 138 point in their first five games the Falcons have been struggling offensively the second half of the season with an average of only 10 points per game. Junior quarterback Keller Monk has a respectable arm but the Falcons choose to keep the ball on the ground most of the time. So far this season Monk is averaging five completions for 67 yards and one interception per game.
Lincoln County’s real offensive punch, however, is on the ground with senior running back Ryan Golden (#1) and sophomore August Hill (#9). Golden is averaging 6.0 yards per carry on 129 tries this season, and Hill is doing even better at 7.0 yards per carry on 139 totes. Together they have combined for 13 touchdowns, the majority of those scored this season by the Falcons.
As with last week’s match against Franklin County, the Red Raiders will need effectively to contain their opponent’s two main ball carriers to remain competitive. Coffee County’s defense continues to improve both on the line and in the backfield. Against Franklin County David Keith in particular shined as he covered territory and took part in tackle after tackle. He and the rest of the Raiders defense will need to be on their game today to contain Golden and Hill.
Coffee County’s workhorse running backs Dalton Carter and Cody Howes will likely be assisted tonight by freshman Reece Pratt, who at 6 feet and 200 pounds is finding a role as a blocking back and short-yardage plower. But the Raiders have yet to establish a legitimate ground attack.
The Raiders offensive strength, however, continues to be in the air. Against Franklin County both of CHS’ touchdowns came on passes from quarterback Peyton Meeker, to fellow seniors Chris Vaughn and Cole Hawkins. Boone Riddle has also been an effective receiver in recent games, and the Raiders have extensive depth in John Reece Gilmer, Garrett Eldridge, Grayson Miller and others.
To be effective in the air against Lincoln County, the Raiders–Meeker, his receivers and coach Lee Davis, who serves as his own offensive coordinator–will need to find a way around Falcons linebacker Jack Cooter (#36). The 5-foot-11-inch, 185-pound senior is averaging nearly 14 tackles per game. Meeker will also have to improve his passing precision and avoid interceptions.
At different times this season Coffee County has shown every element needed to win— an excellent air attack, stifling defense, some brief flashes of excellence in the running game, strong punting and excellent kick returns. The Red Raiders will have to bring all of them to bear consistently tonight to have a fighting chance in The Pit.
Kickoff is at 7 p.m. in Fayetteville. For driving directions, click here.