It’s Joe Bowl Eve, so that means time for a preview of what to watch for as the Eagles travel up highway 15 to take on the Wildcats of Walnut. You can see full reviews of last weeks game for Walnut here and for Falkner here. Read up on the close History of the series here
Walnut has enjoyed a commanding lead in the series since the advent of the Joe Bowl which nearly coincided with their move to 2A football. And since that time, they have almost always been able to outsize Falkner and control the line of scrimmage. This year, they will look to continue that and win the battle up front in the trenches. They were able to Dominate Ashland up front last week which allowed their quarterback Kevin Hurley space to operate in, as well as create running lanes for their thunder/lightning combination of TJ Luellen (thunder) and Kris Perry (lightning) to attack at the second level. Perry is especially dangerous if the Wildcat offensive line can create space for him.
On the defensive side of the ball, the Wildcats calling card in recent years has been to crowd the box, create havoc near the line of scrimmage and dare teams to beat them over the top. The Wildcats are a physical defensive team and they will look to get into the Falkner backfield with Andy Allen and Brandon Smith while they will rely on Brandon Smith and Kris Perry to make plays in the defensive secondary.
Falkner was in a physical contest against East Union last week and they are playing their second higher classification opponent in Walnut on short rest. For the Eagles, attempting to match that physicality, especially on defense, is the primary objective to success.
The Falkner offense racked up 426 yards and 5 touchdowns last week only to fall. They will need to replicate that offense production this week against Walnut. The air attack featuring quarterback Lane Elliott and the receiver duo of Chauncey Jackson and TJ Colom put up over 200 yards and three touchdowns last week and the Eagles will look to these three to set the pace. Senior running back Elijah Moore will be asked to carry the ball and earn some hard yards against the Wildcats to keep the chains moving.
On defense, the goal for Falkner should be simple: be physical and make the play. Several missed tackles in key moments last week led to points for the Eagle opponent. This week, the Eagles will attempt to contain the Wildcats and make every yard they get be earned. The Eagles will rely on their linebacker core of Ryan Caviness and Christian Kennedy to set the tone.
This is a game where records don’t matter. Recent history doesn’t matter. Talent doesn’t even matter. The only thing that matters in a rivalry game like this is which team wants it more. Which team comes out and is motivated to play for their teammates and their community, to have bragging rights for another year? Which team will leave it all on the field? I can assure you, whichever team gives that extra effort on every play will raise the trophy at the end of the game.