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Parkers Chapel to take on Murfreesboro

by Jason Avery | September 22, 2021 at 9:15 p.m.

For the first time in the 2021 season, Parkers Chapel will get the opportunity to play in front of its fans.

The Trojans welcome Murfreesboro for their home opener, which also serves as their homecoming on Friday night.

Game time is set for 7 p.m. at Victor Nipper Stadium.

The start of the season hasn’t been kind to either school.

The Trojans (0-2) and Rattlers (0-3) are both winless and have had three games between them canceled.

Parkers Chapel returned after a three-week absence last week, falling at Magnet Cove 35-8.

The Rattlers’ contest against Poyen was canceled. They last played two weeks ago in a 20-0 loss to Horatio.

Murfreesboro downed PC 36-22 in last year’s encounter.

“Their quarterback transferred and he was their best player, so they’re trying to find their identity, kind of like we are trying to figure out what we can do offensively,” said Parkers Chapel coach Elliot Jacobs.

“They’re a team that plays hard and competes. They haven’t had a lot of success like us, so we feel like we’re an evenly-matched team with them. The team that plays the hardest will have the best chance to win the game on Friday night.”

Jacobs added that PC’s defense will have to be on its toes against the Rattlers.

“They do a lot of different things, but what they do a good job at is getting the ball into the hands of their playmakers,” Jacobs said.

“They’ll line up in different sets, a lot of unconventional formations, so we have to do a good job of sorting it all out, figuring out what they’re trying to do with each formation and do our best to try and stop it.”

Defensively, Jacobs said the Rattlers will change things up in the secondary.

“They’re a four-front team,” Jacobs said. “They’ll switch from a two-safety look or a one-safety look, so our quarterbacks have got to do a good job of recognizing which one it is and what we have called and everything we’re going to call we’ll have built in for either one, so they need to know what the look is and what they need to do based off the look they’re getting.”

After not playing since Week 0 at Smackover, the Trojans arrived at Magnet Cove with the possibility of not playing due to Mother Nature.

“We got there and it started raining on us and it looked a little iffy there for a little bit,” Jacobs said.

“The kids love to compete and they competed for four quarters, so any time we get an opportunity to, the kids enjoy it. That’s why we put on the pads is so we can compete.

It was good to see that. Hopefully, we can get this one in. I know they had a little COVID issue last week. Hopefully they’ll get all of their kids back. We’re waiting on a couple more to get back. Maybe both of us will be closer to full strength by Friday.”

Jacobs thought the defense settled down after a rocky start in the 35-8 loss.

“Defensively, if you take away the first quarter, we played a good game,” Jacobs said. “We gave up 21 points in the first quarter and only two touchdowns the rest of the way through.

“Offensively, we’ve got to do a better job up front. We’ve got to do a better job skill-wise of understanding the scheme and each player playing within themselves.

“As far as coaches, we’ve got to do a better job of figuring out what our kids do best to make them successful and be in the best position to be successful.”

Having not played in three weeks, conditioning was a factor for the Trojans.

“Some of us made it through OK, some of us didn’t,” Jacobs said. “That’s one of those things that’s hard to emulate in practice is game speed.

“What we talked about is we’ve got to do our best in practice to simulate that game speed so we’re accustomed to it by the time we get to Friday, especially with COVID and not knowing week to week if you’re going to get to play or not. You’ve got to make sure your body is ready to go.”

Payton Willeford scored on a 1-yard run that was set up by a long run by Lancer Clark, who added the 2-point conversion to account for the Trojans’ lone points.

“I thought he did some good things for us at quarterback,” Jacobs said of Clark. “He’s the type of kid that if you get him into open space, he can go. Not a lot of people can catch up to him. It’s just we’ve got to find a way to get him the ball in space.

“That’s what I’m doing right now is figuring out how to make him be more successful because every defense we play, they’re going to have 10 to 11 guys with eyes on him at all times.

“We’ve got to do a good job of creating mismatches with him and getting him out one-on-one the best we can and get him the ball.”

If the Trojans are to pick up their first win, Jacobs said it would come down to a couple of factors.

“We’ve got to play harder than them,” Jacobs said. “Execute offensively. We had too many missed tackles on defense, so we need to make sure we wrap up defensively.”

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