TIPTON — The Tipton Cardinals look to snap their four-game losing streak as they get set to face the Russellville Indians.
Tipton is coming off of a 35-18 loss to Crest Ridge, while Russellville is coming off of a 63-16 loss to Slater.
Tipton was schedule to face Russellville in Week 2, but that game was canceled because of limited player availability for the Indians. So this is the first time the two teams will face each other as this is the first season of varsity football for the Indians.
Kickoff for this Class 1 District 3 first-round matchup is scheduled for 7 p.m. tonight in Tipton. Russellville is the No. 6 seed while Tipton is the No. 3 seed.
Cardinals coach Tony Braby said they do not want to take the Indians lightly going into this game.
"We want to at least try to make things interesting and set some team goals and that will help keep us focused," he said.
Going into districts, Braby said the message the coaches have been telling the team is they were fortunate to play nine games this season.
"A lot of schools were not able to do that because of COVID. I think we played a pretty good, tough schedule this year," he said. "We had to be ready to play and we did not get as many wins as we wanted to, but that is besides the point. Because when districts come around you play until you lose and then you turn the stuff in, so right now is when everything counts no matter what your record is."
Braby said the team is healthy heading into the game and is prepared for districts.
"The regular season schedule has gotten us where we need to be and we are looking forward to the state playoffs," he said.
When it comes to getting ready for Russellville's defense in this game, Braby said the Cardinals' offense should be ready to use their formations and their speed to try to spread out the Indians' defense. The difference in experience may also be a factor in the game.
"When you start a new program you can have a lot of really good athletes, but if you have not played the game of football itself then you are going to be behind the eight ball so to speak," he said. "When it comes to just the speed of the game, the physical part of it, little techniques things that you can look for if you have played from junior high to high school, that is six years of being a little bit more used to what is going on.
"This is not what like they would have been in Week 2; they have more experience underneath their belts right now so they should feel a lot more comfortable with what they have to face from us."
When it comes to the Indians' offense, Braby said they try to get a lot of people into the point of attack and they use a lot of motion.
"They are kind of deceptive with their hand-offs and misdirections, and they kind of spin around," he said. "Their linemen are big and sometimes you can't find the backs, and if you are concentrating too much on the backfield action, then the next thing you know they are throwing the ball and getting behind you. So everyone has to do their job and carry it out. As long as we do that stuff we should be OK."
Braby said on defense, Tipton (3-6) has to be patient as they won't completely shut down the Russellville (0-7) offense.
"By no means are we just going to shut them down and keep them from doing what they like to do," he said. "They are going to make plays and we just have to be patient and wait for us to get the ball back on offense so hopefully we can score."
The winner of this game will advance to face the winner of No. 2 seed Windsor and No. 7 seed Pleasant Hope next Friday in the district semifinals.