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Jake Wilson loves a good rivalry game.
Be it Central Hardin, John Hardin or North Hardin, the Meade County senior quarterback thinks there aren’t many things better than lining up against a rival on a Friday night.
That’s why Wilson especially likes when the Green Wave face the Trojans. There’s so much history and tradition in this rivalry that gets Wilson pumped up when the teams meet.
North Hardin travels to Hamilton Field at 7:30 tonight to face its former district rivals. But don’t think that lessens how much this game means to Wilson and the Green Wave (4-4).
“Meade and North have always had a lot of tradition and it’s always been a big rivalry game,” Wilson said Wednesday. “We just came into the week knowing they’re the same as they always are: they’re athletic, they’re fast and they’re big up front. We just have to come out and play our game.
“These are the most fun games of the year,” he added. “You want to come out and play well against them.”
Meade County certainly has played well the last two weeks. And after losing three of their first four games, Wilson said that’s exactly what the Green Wave needed.
He said the two-game winning streak has lifted spirits in the locker room.
“It’s definitely a bit different in the locker room,” Wilson said. “We’re having a little better time. But we still have to come out on Fridays and come ready to play. If we do that, we should keep rolling.”
The Green Wave have won two straight games against pass-happy teams Nelson County and Central Hardin. Meade County limited Nelson County’s Dylan Beasley to 210 yards, and held Central Hardin’s Koree Krupinski to 263.
Senior lineman Ryan Webb thinks the Green Wave can have the same success against the Trojans and junior quarterback Andrew Rugerio, who has passed for 1,905 yards and 21 touchdowns.
“Our ‘D’ has stepped it up,” Webb said. “We’ve really come together this year and we’re really getting it done. But that doesn’t mean anything playing North. They play different than any team we’ve faced, so we’ve got to prepare each week for each team and come out and do our best.
“We have to play tough,” he added. “They’re a good team and they’ve got speed and talent. We’re going to have to play to the best of our ability to be able to stop them and stay on top of them.”
When it comes to facing a spread offense, veteran Meade County coach Larry Mofield always seems to find ways to get his team geared up to stop the pass.
The Green Wave kept Beasley, who has thrown for more than 3,000 yards this season, without a touchdown pass – the only time that’s happened in Beasley’s two full years as Nelson County’s starting quarterback.
But Mofield said there’s one thing that sets Rugerio apart from Beasley and Krupinski: Rugerio can also make plays – and keep them alive – with his feet.
“We’ve played some spread teams, but one thing I think is different about their quarterback than the other two we’ve seen is he’s very mobile,” Mofield said. “I don’t know how many times he’ll tuck it and run, but what he does do a great job of is moving his feet in the pocket. There’s always a moving pocket. That’s something we really haven’t seen the last two weeks.”
To keep Rugerio and North Hardin’s receivers in check, the Green Wave need to get some pressure on Rugerio – but Mofield said they can’t blitz on every down.
“You try to keep everything in front of you as much as you can, and when you rush, you try to have a contained rush,” the coach said. “You can’t rush out of control. If you do that and you get back there – if you’re fortunate enough to get back to him – and you’re out of control, he (Rugerio) can make you pay.
“You’ve got to pick your spots,” Mofield added. “You can’t blitz a team like that all night long. Any time anyone spreads you out like they do, you’ve got to be careful of blitzing too much. If you blitz too much, they’ll burn you. You may look good one play and foolish the next, but the one you look foolish on (you) may give up seven points.”
Webb thinks the Green Wave are up to the task against the Trojans.
So does Mofield, who expects another close game between the longtime adversaries. The last four games have been decided by five or fewer points.
“I’ve been here long enough – I’ve been here 23 years now – to know you can throw records out the window,” Mofield said. “Every year we’ve played North, it’s been a dogfight – and it’ll be a dogfight 23 years from now when I’m probably long gone. It won’t be different Friday night. Our kids better be ready to play, and that’s what we’ve been preaching all week long. And I think we’ve shown them enough film for them to realize that North is a good football team.
“It’ll be a good atmosphere and it’ll be two teams that want to win,” he added. “It’ll be a game that, hopefully, both teams will come ready to play. Nothing in the past indicates to me that it won’t be anything less than a typical North-Meade game.”
Josh Claywell can be reached at (270) 505-1752 or email@example.com.