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Dragons ready to face Golden Tornado

by Jason Avery | September 16, 2022 at 12:00 a.m.

After an unexpected week off, Junction City gets one final tuneup before starting conference play next week.

The Dragons (1-1) host Haynesville (La.) (2-0) in a matchup between border rivals tonight at 7:30 p.m. at David Carpenter Stadium.

Junction City was scheduled to play at Lake Village last week, but the game was canceled due to lightning and inclement weather.

The Golden Tornado have won their two games by a combined eight points, downing North Webster (La.) 29-28 and Harmony Grove 33-26 last week.

Haynesville has won four of the six meetings dating back to 2015, including a 40-28 win last year.

For Junction City coach David Carpenter, this week is about seeing how his defense can slow down Haynesville’s Wing-T offense.

“Haynesville has been running the same offense forever,” Carpenter said. “When coach (David) Franklin’s dad was there coaching, they ran that. As long as David has been there, they’re doing the same thing. They’ve grown up in that offense, and they do such a good job. It’s textbook Wing-T offense. You watch it and you don’t laugh, but you laugh because of all the rules that they use. They just do such a great job at it. Good teams, bad teams that they’ve had down in Haynesville, it’s the same. It doesn’t change.”

Although Junction City doesn’t face many teams that run the Wing-T, Carpenter said preparing for it won’t be an issue.

“We have gone against Wing-T teams and Haynesville for so long through the years, so us as coaches, it’s not hard because we know what we’re going to tell the kids,” Carpenter said. “Each team year after year after year, you see several variations of it but not as good as them. We know the rules and how they are going to approach us at it. It’s just different reads versus a spread offense for our defense, and we work on that year round anyhow because when we do see folks like that in the playoffs, you’ll see several teams that run it and there are several different variations of it that we will see off and on. It’s not hard to get a week’s worth. It’s just making sure that the guys remember all what we have gone over.”

Defensively, Carpenter praised how fundamentally sound the Golden Tornado are.

“They’re going to line up in an even front,” Carpenter said. “They have done the same type, and that’s something that we see constantly out of people. That part of it, we know what we’re preparing for. It’s just that they do it well. Once again, it’s the same type of thing. Their reads, you know what they’re going to read. When a guard pulls here, you know what is going to happen. When a double team is here, you know what is going to happen because they are just as fundamentally sound a team as we will ever see.”

The game between Junction City and Haynesville is one Carpenter looks forward to every year.

“It’s a great ballgame,” Carpenter said. “David and I had been trying to play each other for several years back before we even got started. He and I had talked off and on about it, and finally when the zero week hit for us to be able to play, it opened up a spot for us to pick them up. It’s a great ballgame. They have great, great tradition down there. That’s why we wanted to play them. Also, it’s so close. The majority of the people that we play that’s on our level of classifications are so far away. Any time you get to play someone that’s less than 45 minutes away from you, you’re going to try to take that opportunity as fast as you can. When we go down there, we know we’re going to be treated right as far as what they’re going to have for us and all of those things, and we try to do the same to them when they come back up here. When you play good teams and good people, you try to do it right. That’s the great thing about getting to play Haynesville. Any time you get to play a great program like that, it makes your team better. You can go find someone that’s not very good and play a game and win and win big or you can find a program that is very good that’s going to make you better in the long run. That’s what Haynesville offers us. A great program that’s going to make us better win or lose the ballgame. We’re going to come out a better team just from playing these guys.”

It’s been rare to see Louisiana schools play out of state due to the points system, but a recent change has opened the door for Louisiana schools to pursue that avenue.

“Louisiana has now started counting out-of-state schools in their points system, so the better opponent for them, the better off that they’re going to be because they get to count points for a victory and then however many victories the opponents have. They get to count those,” Carpenter said. 

“A couple of years ago, David was asking me about who he could pick up in our area that’s the same size and play these guys that’s going to be a good team, and I told him to get a hold of Ernie (Horstkamp) at Harmony Grove because he’s going to do it right and be a team that you’ll want to play. Once again, win or lose, he’s going to come out on top with the points that he’ll get.”

With the Lake Village game canceled, Carpenter was asked if he would try to fill the open date the Dragons have next month.

“It’s not closed, but you’ve got to see how everything is rolling along at that time,” Carpenter said. “With our numbers being down, I have a feeling by that point in time that when we get there, we’re going to need an open date in there for our guys to heal up, recover and get ready to go and continue on trying to make a run at it. The opportunity not to play at that point in time will be pretty good for us is where we’re feeling right now.”

And while the Dragons weren’t able to play last week, Carpenter said they will be ready for Haynesville.

“You’ve got to deal with it and move on,” Carpenter said. “We were really wanting to play. As we were telling the guys, the improvements that we have been making from week to week to week, we needed to get in there and play that game. One, for conditioning-wise. Obviously early in the year you need to play all you can. Two, getting to go against another quality team and being able to get out on the field and work on all of the things that you like to do. 

“It hurt us that way, but we’ll bounce back and get ready to go play. It’s just one of those things that happens. It’s the first one I’ve ever been involved in where a game was canceled.”

For Carpenter, he wants to see his team get better against a foe that ranks annually as one of the top teams regardless of class in Louisiana.

“We’ve just got to continue to improve,” Carpenter said. “Practices are going well. The guys are still disappointed that they didn’t get to play in a ballgame, but they know we’ve got another game coming up, and we’ve got to do the best that we can. We’re just going to go from there. They’re going to continue to work like they’ve been and try to get better at it. We’ll just keep going.”

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