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One of the few complaints Shelby County football coach Todd Shipley has had with his team’s 3-1 start is the Rockets’ tendency to put the football on the ground.
Shelby County has lost nine fumbles in its first four games, including four in last week’s 21-0 victory over Henry County.
“We continue to try to improve on that because it [not fumbling] really helps our game,” Shipley said. “We keep preaching it and making sure on all plays we’re tucking that ball away and securing it because it’s just such an emotional killer [to fumble].
“Usually [the fumbles] have happened in situations where we were moving the ball then, bam!”
The Rockets will need all the emotion they can muster at 7:30 tonight, when they try to spoil Oldham County’s Homecoming in Buckner.
The Colonels (2-3) began their season with a 55-0 annihilation of Atherton but followed that up with three consecutive losses – 16-10 to county-rival North Oldham, 28-14 at Collins and 42-18 to their other county-rival, South Oldham.
However Class 6A Oldham County got back on track last Friday night, blasting 2A Covington Holy Cross, 48-21.
“They’re big up front, which always gives us problems,” Shipley said. “On offense they do a lot of different things. Either they’re pretty talented, or they’re trying to figure out what they’re trying to do.
“But they laid the wood to Holy Cross last week.”
Senior running back Jacob Taylor did most of the damage against the Indians, rushing for 180 yards and four touchdowns and also scoring on a 57-yard reception.
“Number eleven [Taylor] had a field day against Holy Cross,” Shipley said. “He’s pretty fast.”
Keeping Taylor in check should be one of the keys for the Rockets.
“We’ve got to contain them,” Shipley said. “I think they’re a better running team than they are a passing team, so we have to force them to pass.”
Last year, in Oldham’s 48-14 victory, Colonels quarterback Brett Strnad threw for 171 yards and four touchdowns.
“He’s a pretty good runner too,” Shipley said. “What worries us is him running the ball. Against Anderson their quarterback hurt us running the ball….[Oldham] has some weapons if they get them going.”
In last year’s meeting Oldham outgained the Rockets, 397-122, including 213-30 on the ground.
“Last year they got out on us early [with a 17-yard TD run by Taylor],” Shipley said.
The Colonels also used several big plays, with five of their touchdowns going for 30 or more yards (including a 90-yard kickoff return for a TD), last September against Shelby. Defense has been one of the early-season strengths of the Rockets, who are sixth in rushing D (107 yards per game) and 15th in passing defense (113 ypg) in 5A . Shelby County gave up just 83 yards of offense to the Wildcats last week, and Henry County’s biggest gain came on a fake punt.
“Defensively we were very, very pleased,” Shipley said.
You can bet Shipley will be equally as happy if the Rockets post similar numbers against the Colonels – and not lose any fumbles.