It would be easy for the Clarke County football team to have a letdown after last week’s big Bull Run District win over Central, but there’s no absolutely no danger of that in tonight’s 7 p.m. game.
For the second straight week, the Eagles (3-0, 1-0 district) take on an undefeated Bull Run rival. This time it’s at Strasburg (3-0, 0-0), a team that Clarke County hasn’t played in two years. Their spring game was canceled because of a COVID-19 shutdown at Clarke County.
“The quality of the district is really high this year, because everybody is winning these out-of-conference games,” Clarke County head coach Casey Childs said. “It’s one of those things where you can’t let your guard down.
“Strasburg is one of our main rivals. If we can’t get up for Strasburg, something’s wrong with us as coaches and us as kids. I think we’re ready to play. We’re excited about the opportunity to play them.”
Clarke County is looking for its ninth straight win against the Rams.
Points were hard to come by in the Eagles’ 13-7 win over Central, and that could be the case again tonight as well.
Strasburg (all wins against Class 3 opponents) is allowing only 9.7 points per game and 220.7 yards per game, including 104.3 yards per game on 4.2 yards per carry. In the Rams’ last game two weeks ago, they shut out Warren County and held the Wildcats to 212 yards.
The Rams have been particularly adept at forcing turnovers (seven interceptions, four fumbles). Though Clarke County doesn’t throw much out of its single-wing offense, the Eagles will have to be mindful with ball security.
“They fly around the ball, and when you fly to the football good things happen,” Childs said. “I know that [Head] Coach [Mark] Roller and [assistant] Tripp [Lamb], they preach getting to the football and when you do that, you’re stripping and pulling. They’re making big plays on defense, so we’ve got to make sure we maintain the football.”
Lineman Colby Shaw (6-foot-1, 195 pounds) leads Strasburg with 27 tackles.
Though Clarke County didn’t light up the scoreboard against Central, the Eagles still moved the ball well. Kyler Darlington rushed for 187 yards and two touchdowns on 28 carries and the Eagles rushed for 273 yards overall. For the season, Clarke County is averaging 328 yards per game, including 298.3 rushing on 9.3 yards per attempt.
Childs said the Eagles have done an excellent job blocking this year, from the players up front to the players in the backfield who have to get out and hit someone even if the ball doesn’t wind up in their hands.
The Eagles’ front seven features tackles Clay Welsh and Jeremy Burns, guards Roger Tapscott and Gage Shiley and center Michael Perozich. The tight ends are Titus Hensler and Kyler McKenzie. The blocking back is Liam Whalen.
“My hat goes off to our kids up front,” Childs said. “I think any football coach will tell you that every single game is won and lost in the trenches. That’s why whenever we get a win, it’s important to recognize those kids, because they’re the unsung heroes of the football team.”
Strasburg’s T-formation offense (213 yard per game) includes Brady Neary (32 carries, 196 yards, two TDs) and Tanner Jenkins (26 carries, 142 yards, TD). Quarterback Ryan Roller has completed 6 of 13 passes for 110 yards and two TDs.
The Eagles will counter with a defense that is allowing only 4.3 points and 119.7 yards per game. Freshman linebacker Tyler Chinn leads with 29 tackles.
“[Strasburg’s] got four guys who are really quick back there and can make guys miss,” Childs said. “They’re running the buck and the dive, and they’re trapping. The quarterback Roller is athletic. He gets to the edge and he’s looking to keep a lot of times on the bootleg.
“We’ve got to be really good at the point of attack, and our guys up front have to win the line of scrimmage. We’ve got to win first and second down on offense and defense.”