Zachary Orange

Laker junior Zachary Orange runs the ball in an away game against Paducah Tilghman earlier this season.

MURRAY —  For all intents and purposes, tonight‘s game against Hopkins County Central is a playoff game for the Calloway County Lakers. Both sides are looking for their first win of the year, and in the past few years, this game has decided who gets the four-seed and moves on to the playoffs at the end of the year. 

The Storm are hungry and desperate for a win, and so are the Lakers. Head coach Chris Champion said that he expects for Hopkins County to empty the playbook against them tonight.

“Those guys are coming into this game like us, seeking their first win,” Champion said. “They threw the kitchen sink at Madisonville defensively and offensively and we expect them to do the same this week.”

Coming off the bye week, the Lakers will be at nearly full strength for the first time since week one. They get starting quarterback John Foster back from his collarbone injury, and they also get back Isaac Smith. He takes back over the ‘quarterback’ role of the defense at middle linebacker. With the two leaders back, the Lakers expect to make big plays on both sides of the ball. 

“With John back, we are running our offense, but we tried to make a few adjustments because we are obviously still concerned with his collarbone and him taking another shot. I’m confident that it’s healed up, but we’re not going to put him in a situation to take big shots his first game back,” Champion said. “Then, defensively with Isaac back, we are able to go back to our old system of defense, the one we worked on the entire offseason, which is a lot more of a four-man front…We are hoping that’s going to help us. We’ve had a real problem getting pressure on the quarterback and we’ve had to blitz a little bit more than we’d like.”

In the contest last year against the Storm, the Lakers came out victorious but, the Storm had to play without their top two wide receivers, and this year they are healthy and putting up good numbers, and one is now at quarterback for the Storm.

Adrian Stringer has thrown for 1,490 yards this season with 11 TDs and just four interceptions, and his favorite target is Blasin Moore, who is just as fast as his name implies. Moore has 43 catches for 640 yards and five scores. Stringer is also a guy that can make plays with his feet and leads the team in rushing attempts with 45 carries and 163 yards. The rushing attack leaves a lot to be desired for the Storm, but they make it work with the passing game.

“They throw the ball around a bunch,” Champion said. “They are a high percentage passing team. Their quarterback is a talented kid and they’ve got some talented receivers. I know number 10 (Blasin Moore) is a guy they really like to get the ball to and they do a lot of different things. They send motions and all kinds of trick plays, like reverses, Pole Cat, and Swinging Gate. So, getting ready for those guys is difficult, just because they throw so much at you.”

The game will have a playoff atmosphere to it and a bit of a chill in the air with temperatures expected to get as low as 30 degrees about an hour after kickoff. It’s a special night for the Lakers too, because they will have free admission for the game and will be taking up donations from the crowd to help raise money for the Real Men Wear Pink campaign. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. at Jack D. Rose Stadium, and if you’re looking to attend bring a raincoat and a sweater.

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