RUSSELLVILLE — Russellville coach Roger VanDeZande is not a big fan of high school football games being played on Saturdays.
However, he had no choice in the matter because the Indians' contest against the Grandview: Hillsboro Eagles had already been scheduled for Saturday. Kickoff is set for 2 p.m.
Both teams are coming off of big losses last week with Russellville (0-2) losing 42-0 to Sweet Springs, and Grandview: Hillsboro (2-1) losing to St. Pius X: Festus 41-16 after starting the season 2-0. The Indians are still searching for their first varsity win.
For almost every team, the extra day of preparation would be welcomed. However, due to some of the players having other obligations this week, VanDeZande said it has been a different week of practice than normal.
"We had a JV game on Monday, and some guys have (a Future Farmers of America) thing going on, so we have really one less day to prepare than we normally do," VanDeZande said.
With one less full day than normal, Russellville has been making the most of what they have regarding their defense.
During their 42-0 loss to Sweet Springs, the Indians were gouged on the line of scrimmage, allowing 201 yards rushing and three touchdowns by Greyhounds running back Cole Lovercamp.
This week, they face yet another big rushing team in Grandview: Hillsboro, which is averaging 251 rushing yards per game through three games. The Eagles' big rusher is junior running back Chase Wilson, who has 295 rushing yards and six touchdowns on the year so far.
"They come straight at you on offense. They run their package pretty well, they have a few good athletes," VanDeZande said. "It's not a complex scheme, but they're very sound and they execute pretty well."
Junior Ryan Ruble had a respectable game against St. Pius X: Kansas City, rushing for 101 yards on 13 carries, but the Lancers were successful in containing the Eagle rushing attack.
The key to stopping this rushing attack may just come from their previous opponent. As it turns out, Russellville and St. Pius X: Kansas City share something in common that could play to the Indians' favor.
"St. Pius's defense is real similar to ours in terms of their alignment," VanDeZande said. "We watched the tape and pretty much understood it because it was very much like our own."
Going into Saturday's game, Russellville hopes to be able to control the line of scrimmage this time around, unlike in their games against Missouri Military Academy and Sweet Springs where they were overwhelmed by their opponent's rushing attack. In order to do that, VanDeZande explained, they'd need to be sound enough in their execution and avoid turnovers and mental mistakes.
"Half of them are mental mistakes, and half of them are poor execution. We have to deal with both those things, and we'll be better in that," VanDeZande said.
And finally, get in the end zone.
"We've gotta get in the end zone several times."