IOWA PARK, Texas — The fifth all-time meeting between Muenster and Albany takes place at Iowa Park’s Hawk Stadium Friday night. It’s the third time between respective coaches Brady Carney and Denney Faith.
“The only similarities as far as now and the last time we met up, [in 2013], is the coaching staff,” Muenster coach Carney noted. “He hasn’t changed his staff any, and I haven’t changed mine any. But both of us were pretty run heavy in the last meeting, but now we run two-back, one-back, and we’re fairly even with running and passing.”
“They have skilled kids all over the field, we’re not going to be able to stop just one thing defensively,” Faith remarked. “We need to be able to cover the whole field and defend.”
Muenster’s round three contest against Munday last week provided a bit of a challenge. According to Carney, the Moguls “kept a lot of kids in the box.”
“We knew we had to throw the ball a little more because of that. But Parker [McGrew] was spot-on, and all the receivers did a great job catching,” Carney said.
The defense turned in a strong performance as well. Holding a potent Munday offense to a single touchdown. It didn’t allow a score until four seconds remaining in the fourth.
“The defense has played well all year long; we know it’s a priority,” Carney boasted. “We talked about linebackers having to be better this year, and three or four of them have excelled this year, and have been good all year long.”
When factoring in the Hornets’ 60-0 drubbing of Iraan in the area round, the defense has seen plenty of opportunities to flex their muscles against the run game in particular.
“We really needed to stop the run well in the past two weeks,” Carney said. “We knew we had to prevent any run plays in general, really. We did our best to keep [Munday’s Alex] Thorn and [Iraan’s Kyle] O’Bannon in check, two great running backs, it all starts with those guys up front obviously.”
For as dominant as the Hornets’ 2017 season has been, Albany hasn’t been too far behind. The Lions offense is averaging 54 points per game, nearly identical to Muenster’s 56.2 points per outing.
Brian Hamilton guides the Albany offense well, while racking up jaw-dropping numbers himself. The senior has recorded 2,698 yards and 49 touchdowns on 162 completions.
The Lions also field a decent running back corps, with three rushers tallying more than 500 yards on the season, including Hamilton. The unit is led by junior Cutter Edgar, with 1,359 yards and 24 touchdowns so far.
“We think we’re very similar to Muenster offensively with our skill players,” said Faith.
The Lions have been recognized the past few seasons for their stout defense, and this season’s unit is no different. Albany has pitched four shutouts in 2017, while also allowing less than 10 twice.
Through the entirety of the season, it has allowed an average of 9.15 points per contest.
“We try to play fast and with a lot of emotion defensively,” Faith explained. “We make sure we’re staying sound defensively, running, pursuing and tackling well.”
As the week progresses, Carney reports no change in practice regimen, despite the ever-increasing stakes in the postseason.
“We’re consistent in our practicing whether it’s August 8th or December 8th. We have a schedule we stick to, and one we believe in.”
Albany is through to the regional final round after wins over Santo and Lindsay, district rivals of Muenster. Can the Lions down a third 8-2A DII opponent? Or will Muenster notch its first program win over Albany in its quest for their first state title?
“We try to step up the intensity in what we do,” Faith noted. “And knock on wood, we’ve been injury free for the most part. We’ll just have to see what goes on Friday night.”
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