OCILLA -- The Irwin County Indians are 3-1 on the year and 10 in the Region 2-AA standings. In their three wins, the Indians have outscored their opponents 91-16.
With all of that in their favor, the Indians are heavy favorites tomorrow night when they host the winless Bacon County Red Raiders in another 2-AA contest.
Besides being winless, the Red Raiders are also scoreless on the year. Bacon has lost to Atkinson County, 3-0; ECI, 14-0; Clinch County, 27-0; and to Fitzgerald in last week's league opener, 38-0.
When asked how he keeps his team from being overconfident against such a squad, Irwin coach Jute Wilson said Bacon is not as bad as its season may indicate.
"Bacon's record makes preparation difficult, however, we only have to show our players game tapes to prove they are a talented team," Wilson said. "They have athletes and they play hard. Last year, they won the state in baseball and the regular season region title in basketball. They always have a good track team as well. We are not overlooking or underestimating this team by any means."
He added, "Bacon is more than capable of beating us. We are counting on our kids to realize the urgency of each region game and get ready to play."
Wilson also pointed out that Bacon has played a tough schedule.
"It is true they have not won or scored, but they have played several very good teams such as Clinch, Fitzgerald, ECI and ATCO. They have not given up a lot of offensive points, they have killed themselves with turnovers. If they don't turn the ball over so much, they are in many of those games. I know when they do score, they are going to be fired up and play even harder," the Irwin coach stated.
Wilson continued, "our defense has come along well so far, I am counting on them to be ready Friday night. Like Vince Lombardi said, 'If they don't score, we won't lose.' We have had some real battles with Bacon the last few years and this year looks to be no exception."
In Irwin's 22-6 region victory over Jeff Davis last Friday, the defense was again a bright spot for the Indians. According to Wilson, senior linebacker Darian Vickers had a big game with two interceptions. One of those picks was returned for a touchdown, but the play was wiped out due to a penalty.
"He also had several tackles for loss yardage and a couple of sacks. I am proud of the way he has progressed over the last year," said Wilson.
The coach also noted the performances of some other players.
"Jake Dukes and Blake Marshall are both doing a good job of pulling double duty at linebacker and along the offensive line," Wilson stated. "Mike Clark and Malone Brown had pretty good games at wide receiver. We threw the ball fairly well, but had many plays negated by flags."
Even though, according to Wilson, the passing game did well Friday against Jeff Davis, Irwin's strong suit is a running game that has accounted for 1,080 yards in four games. Irwin runners are averaging 6.7 yards per carry.
With those numbers, there is still room for improvement in the rushing and passing games, according to the coach.
"We are working on our running backs' blocking, that needs to improve if we are going to be a good team," the Irwin coach said.
As the Indians prepare for the Red Raiders, Irwin is close to being healthy. However, starting running back Pat Mathis is still out with a leg injury and quarterback/safety Wallace Mizell is nursing a hip pointer. According to Wilson, Mizell will see limited action against Bacon.
Game time is 7:30 p.m. in Ocilla.
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