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’Cats more physical, Rams more polished


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ASHLAND — Raceland’s football coach is noticing a more physical Ashland defense this season.


Scary observation, considering the Tomcats were downright nasty hosts to the Rams a year ago — the team in orange walked out of Putnam Stadium with nine punts, 116 total yards of offense (58 rushing on 32 attempts) and two turnovers to its name.


Does Ashland coach Leon Hart see what Rams head man T.J. Maynard is seeing? 


“I don’t think there’s any question about it,” Hart said.


When asked what concerned him most about Friday night’s matchup at Putnam, Maynard could only laugh.


“There’s a whole list of them,” he said.


Topping that list? The Tomcats’ experienced front seven on defense. He mentioned linebacker Shannon Justice by name.


“Ashland’s really really good up front. They come off the ball and they come off the ball low,” Maynard said. “It all starts with Justice. He gets to the football.


“This is one of the more physical Ashland teams I’ve seen in a while,” he continued. “We have to make sure we match that intensity up front.”


Size-wise, the Rams aren’t lacking. Raceland’s smallest offensive lineman is 6-foot, 250 pounds.


Asking them to protect junior quarterback Adam Elkins against Ashland’s aggressive group, on the other hand, isn’t exactly a piece of cake.


“If we get our pad level down, we’re OK,” Maynard said.


Raceland (1-0) was forced to play a slew of freshmen and sophomores in last year’s 58-12 blowout.


“It was tough to put them in that battle against a veteran group like Ashland in that atmosphere, but hopefully it has prepared our kids for down the road, and now,” Maynard said.


Elkins accounted for 303 total yards (223 passing, 80 rushing) in the Rams’ 38-6 win over East Carter last week. Daylin Beach and Rodney Vance each found the end zone multiple times.


“They’ve got four or five guys you don’t want to see get loose,” Hart said. “They can score from all over the field.”


Hart called Elkins “far more polished” after seeing him excel in a scrimmage game against Fleming County this preseason.



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I'm telling you, this game has the making of a great one. Both teams bring some great linemen to the table. I love watching two good OL/DL playing against each other. Plus, both teams have some great playmakers. I can't wait to see what happens.

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