RUSSELLVILLE — The search for win No. 1 continues for the Russellville Indians as they travel to Paris tonight to take on the Paris Coyotes.
Both teams are coming off of losses last Friday. Paris (2-4) was blanked 32-0 by Fayette, while Russellville (0-5) lost 72-28 to Harrisburg.
For Russellville coach Roger VanDeZande, this week has been a challenge for the team. There were a few injuries and illnesses going around the team, which only allows for the Indians to suit up 18 players for tonight's game. Not only that, but the offensive line has also been dealt a tough hand.
"We're having to start a freshman at center, and we also had another one starting at guard during this season," VanDeZande said. "It's been a work in progress so far."
What hasn't been a work in progress is the trio of running backs that drive the Russellville offense: junior Chris Seaver, senior Bladen Kremer, and junior Alex Oligschlaeger. Kremer and Seaver both exploded for big games last week in the team's loss to Harrisburg, with both rushing for 100 yards and scoring a touchdown.
Oligschlaeger also scored and Seaver added a kickoff return that went all the way to the end zone.
"(Kremer) is a load to bring down, and (Seaver) and (Oligschlaeger) are good runners. We just need more balance out of all of them," VanDeZande said. "If we can do that, it'll be a good night for us offensively."
Even so, VanDeZande is hoping to see more contributors to the team's success to go along with those three.
"We have good kids that can produce a balanced game, but we also need better blocking," he said.
Paris is the first team Russellville has faced with a losing record going into a game this season. VanDeZande attributed that to the conference it plays in — the Lewis & Clark Conference, which also includes Harrisburg.
"It's a tough conference," VanDeZande said. "So to be able to get those two wins is a good thing for them, but it's a tough conference."
VanDeZande highlighted the importance of taking care of the football — something that has been an issue for the Indians all season.
"We've turned that thing over consistently and that hurts us," he said. "So having good ball security is important."
Another key is to take away Paris' running game, something the Indians have been constantly having to do this season with very mixed success. Add in the Coyotes have three strong runners just like them, and it's like looking in a mirror.
"They've got a sound running game out of their running back, but their fullback is tough and their quarterback is tough, so I think slowing them down is a key," VanDeZande said.
The last one is controlling time of possession. Ever since Week 1, the Indians' offense has done a better job of sustaining long drives and staying on the field, but it has had trouble scoring until last week against Harrisburg.
With their three big running backs, and the occasional big pass from quarterback Jesse Daniel, the offense has the ability to stay on the field for long periods of time.
"Having our offense on the field is the best thing for us," VanDeZande said. "Best defense is a good offense."
Kickoff is at 7 p.m. at Paris High School.