RUSSELLVILLE — Getting down to the last two weeks of the season, the Russellville Indians must be thanking their lucky stars they get to play their last two regular season games at home before districts.
Russellville (0-6) came close to getting its first win in Week 4 against Grandview: Hillsboro, where they came 10 yards short in a 12-8 loss. Since that game, they have lost by scores of 58-14, 72-28 and 58-22.
During last week's game at Paris, Russellville played a very good first half where they were a failed 2-point conversion away from going into halftime tied. In the second half, fumbles and turnovers plagued the team.
This week, the Indians take on Sherwood, who comes in with a 1-4 record after a 49-15 loss to El Dorado Springs last week.
Despite the lopsided record, Russellville coach Roger VanDeZande is not taking Sherwood lightly.
"They have a good line and they have good movement with their skill players. They've run into some bigger teams than them, but they still have a real solid team," VanDeZande said. "It's gonna be a good game."
Sherwood won its first game of the season against Holden 20-6 before going on its current four-game losing skid. They have been outscored 227-23 during that time.
Like Russellville, the Marksmen like to rely on the running game. Running backs senior Carter Kimbrough and freshman Garrett Cardwell lead the team in rushing — Cardwell having more yards with 284, but Kimbrough with more touchdowns at four.
Russellville junior running back Chris Seaver is coming off his best game of the season with 180 yards and two touchdowns against Paris. He has 509 rushing yards and six rushing touchdowns on the season.
To prepare for their opponent this week, the Indians have been working on some new tricks.
"We're running a defensive front that we haven't run yet this year, so it's been a bit different than we have done before defensively," VanDeZande said. "More passing, and even some plays where we go no-huddle, some fun stuff the kids are excited about. We're just working to get more consistent at it."
The extra emphasis on passing comes as sophomore quarterback Jesse Daniel completed his first touchdown pass last week — a 25-yard strike to junior receiver Blake Burling. Along with that touchdown, Daniel also enjoyed his best day passing the ball as he went 8-for-13 for 95 yards. He's improved with every game up until his breakout performance last week.
The one main key to victory for Russellville this week is something that has been a constant for them this season: limiting turnovers. So far, that has been easier said than done.
Russellville has lost 18 fumbles this season, many leading to scores by its opponents. Ball control and controlling time of possession were two big things VanDeZande emphasized as keys to the Indians getting their first victory.
The second was playing good defense.
"We have to play more aggressive on defense. We've got to go at 'em and play tough at the line of scrimmage," VanDeZande said.
The last one was a little more light-hearted, but still important.
"Play and have fun," he said. "Play the way I know (the team) can play."