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HILLSVILLE –– It's only mid-September, but the district portion of Carroll County's schedule is already upon it.
The Cavaliers will open Southwest District play tonight when they travel down US 460 to face Tazewell at Bulldog Stadium.
Hoping to get back on the winning track, Carroll County will face a young Tazewell squad still in search of its first win.
“They’ve got a young group, a young quarterback and their skill people are pretty young,” Cavalier coach Tom Hale said, “but they’ve got real good size.”
The Bulldogs narrowly missed picking up their first W of the season last week in a 21-14 loss to Lebanon, that coming after back-to-back shutout losses to Gate City and George Wythe to open the year.
“They probably should have beat Lebanon,” Hale said. “Our scouts say they lost it with maybe 30 seconds to go. But they’re going to be a worthy opponent. The first district game and having to go down there, we’ve got to get ourselves regrouped from last week and go down there expecting a battle.”
A battle will be nothing new to the Cavaliers, who were shelled 40-0 by a talented Christiansburg a week ago. After rushing for more than 500 yards against Patrick County the week before, Carroll was limited to less than 30 yards on the ground against the Blue Demons. Though the Cavaliers incurred their fair share of bumps and bruises, Hale is most concerned about how his team will respond mentally.
“We’ve got to execute well and be sharp on the mental side of things, because physically I think we’re fine,” he said. “We didn’t have anything to match Christiansburg, but they’ve got a fine football team. But for the rest of the year, if we’re healthy, we’re going to be fine physically. It’s the mental aspect of the game we’ve got to get a handle on.”
Hale said the important thing is for his club to realize that facing Christiansburg will be a humbling experience for a lot of teams this year.
“It’s my job to explain to them that they lost to a very good team, and that the rest of the teams we play here on out aren’t going to be like Christiansburg,” Hale said. “That’s no disrespect to anybody we play, and that doesn’t mean we’re going to win or lose. But if we’re more prepared mentally and learn from what happened in that game, from here on out we should be fine, at least until the ninth game, and that’s going to be a big one for us.”
After suffering a couple of key injuries to its line early in the season, it was the skill guys who were banged around Friday. Ulises Moreno played very sparingly against Christiansburg while nursing a tender shoulder, Ryne Ayers turned an ankle and Logan Hodges twisted a knee. All three are regulars on both sides of the ball, so it was more like six injuries instead of three.
Quarterback Blake Bowman was seen favoring his right (throwing) shoulder during the Christiansburg game, but Hale said he believed his senior quarterback suffered a stinger, and that Bowman has been throwing the ball well this week and has participated in contact drills.
Moreno, Ayers and Hodges have also participated in contact drills this week, and Hale expects all three to be ready come game time.
Carroll County (1-2) at Tazewell (0-3)
Friday, 7:30 p.m., Bulldog Stadium
Carroll County lost to Christiansburg 40-0
Tazewell lost to Lebanon 31-24
2009 – Carroll County won 33-14
Last Tazewell win
None to date
1996–Carroll County 54-0
1997–Carroll County 56-3
2000–Carroll County 23-22
2003–Carroll County 21-9
2005–Carroll County 21-7
2006–Carroll County 21-14
2007–Carroll County 39-7
2009–Carroll County 33-14
Carroll County leads 8-6
Carroll County Tazewell
L to Bassett 17-14 8/27 L to G.Wythe 28-0
D Patrick Co. 47-19 9/3 L to Gate City 41-0
L to C'burg 40-0 9/10 L to Lebanon 31-24
at Tazewell 9/17 Carroll County
at Grayson County 9/24 Abingdon
Open 10/1 at Richlands
Abingdon 10/8 at Honaker
Marion 10/15 Graham
at Grundy 10/22 at Marion
at Richlands 10/29 Grundy
Graham 11/3 Open