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By JOSH CLAYWELL email@example.com
FORT KNOX — The No. 1 problem facing the Fort Knox Eagles entering tonight’s game with longtime rival Elizabethtown?
“The one thing we’ve got to do is quit missing tackles,” Fort Knox assistant coach and defensive coordinator Mike Marksbury said late Thursday. “It’s already frustrating. But it’s something you’ve got to keep working on.”
The homestanding Eagles (0-3) can’t afford to miss tackles against Elizabethtown’s prolific receiving duo – seniors Chris Gohman and Trevor Deneen – at McAdams Field.
“They’re going to catch their passes,” Marksbury said. “But the No. 1 thing we try to do is keep everything in front of us. We want to stop the big play.”
Elizabethtown (2-1) definitely has big-play potential with Gohman and Deneen on the field.
Gohman leads the area in every receiving category and has recorded three straight 100-yard performances, while Deneen has caught 17 passes for 258 yards and four touchdowns.
Senior quarterback Micheal Thomas has thrown for 900 yards and 11 touchdowns, which is tops in the area in both categories.
“They’ve got an outstanding quarterback and those two receivers make plays,” Marksbury said. “They play hard and they’re coached well. It’ll be an extremely big challenge for us.”
A challenge Marksbury feels Fort Knox is up for, even though Elizabethtown has won the last four meetings and is 7-1 against the Eagles since 1998. The teams didn’t play in 2001 or 2002.
“The only thing that scares me is I don’t want them to be able to throw it and run it,” Marksbury said. “They’re a fantastic team. We think we know some of the things they’re going to do. It’s just can we step up and meet the challenge?
“I think we can. The one thing that we have to understand is that they’re going to complete passes and make plays,” Marksbury added. “We can’t let one big play get in our heads.”
The big plays cost the Eagles last week on the road against Hancock County.
Fort Knox had two punts blocked, which led to touchdowns for the Hornets.
“It was a disheartening loss,” Marksbury said. “We spent a lot of extra time this week on special teams because that was a thorn in our side. We spent a lot of time trying to shore that up.”
Fort Knox also has to shore up its defensive unit as senior John Ford may be out for the season with a broken collarbone.
Doctors in Owensboro thought the injury wouldn’t require surgery and that Ford would miss five weeks at the most, but additional testing revealed Ford may have to have season-ending surgery in the next week.
“He was, hands down, the best defensive player we had,” Marksbury said. “He just did things the right way. For a team with 38 players, it’s pretty tough on the defensive side of the ball. It’s tough on offense because he was a pretty good receiver, too. It’s something we’ve got to overcome. We’ve just got to get other people ready.”
Marksbury said junior Cortez Benson or sophomore Fadore Bing will start in place of Ford.
“They’re going to have to be ready to step in,” Marksbury said. “It’s just time for them to step up.”
Game time is set for 7:30 tonight.
“E’town is a tremendous challenge. It’s not going to be easy, but I look forward to seeing how our kids respond,” Marksbury said.
Josh Claywell can be reached at 505-1752