Oct. 6—LINDSIDE — It's a short week and a big week for James Monroe football as the No. 11 Mavericks host No. 6 Greenbrier West at Lindside on Friday night in a battle of Class A unbeatens.
Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m.
James Monroe (5-0) comes off a 35-0 win over Class AA PikeView that was played on Monday night due to Friday's matchup having had to be postponed due to hurricane-related precipitation.
Given the weight of Friday's game on the statewide Class A stage, James Monroe head coach John Mustain admits that the short week does seem less than ideal. But he expects his team to handle it.
At this point of the season, a slight change of routine might even be a plus, he said.
"Generally on a normal week, Monday is pretty much a film day, Tuesday and Wednesday are offensive and defensive days and Thursdays, we just call it pre-game ... we just go over things and make sure everyone is in tune with what we're doing Generally on Thursdays, we're done by 5:15 p.m.," Mustain said.
"We may have to tweak Thursday a little, but this won't affect our practices that much. and like I told the kids, I'd rather play than practice any day," he said.
Monday night's game marked the Mavericks' third shutout of the season. The strong defensive performance, that included a pair of interceptions, was complimented by a balanced offensive attack.
Quarterback Layton Dowdy passed for 226 yards and four touchdowns, with two scoring strikes going to Eli Allen and two going to Cooper Ridgeway.
Ridgeway also led Mavs rushing with 64 yards while Braydie Carr — who added a 1-yard touchdown run —had 31 net yards rushing and Chaz Boggs had 38.
"I'd still like to see improvement in our running game. I feel like we had that in the second half. There were some things that went on, especially in the second quarter, that we weren't real pleased with up front," said Mustain.
"I don't know if we so much made adjustments at halftime as we just kind of tried to get a little bit of fire under them and get back on track. I thought they did a much better job in the second half," he said.
Mustain admitted that having the ability to throw the ball is a better to have than not, but he prefers the Mavs going to the air on their own terms. This is probably even more the case against West.
The Cavaliers (6-0), who are coming off of a 41-12 victory versus Shady Spring, reeled off a school-record five consecutive shutouts prior to last week's win over the Tigers: Buffalo (33-0), Summers County (26-0), Pocahontas County (54-0), Webster County (61-0), and Meadow Bridge (54-0).
The Cavaliers ball-control ground attack also has a way of limiting opponents' scoring opportunities by monopolizing time of possession. Star running back Ty Nickell passed the 1,000-yard season rushing mark by the end of the Meadow Bridge game, a contest that saw him rush for 158 yards and three scores.
"I think they're just a typical Greenbrier West team that will come out there and smack you in the mouth. They're pretty good on either side of the ball and they're going to be all we can handle. They're tough," said Mustain.
"The Nickell kid in the backfield — he's just a junior — he's the one that sticks out in my mind. I'm not saying he's the only one, but he's the big one. He's the one that puts up the big yards for them," the Mavs head coach said.
Mustain obviously hasn't had much time to stop and smell the roses during a week like this. But even while on the move, he's acutely aware that he and his kids have a lot to be grateful for.
"It honestly means a lot to be halfway through in your number of games and be [undefeated.] It's one of those things, I'm happy to be where we're at because I know there's a lot of people who wish they were in this situation at this point," Mustain said.
"But ultimately, there's still a lot of work to be done."
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