The Hulbert Riders are still in search of their first win. Friday at Warner will not get any easier. It is the fourth road game for the 0-4 squad.
Hulbert head coach Scott Sapulpa said he picked the Eagles (4-4, 2-2) to win District A-8 and is putting the focus on team defense and ball security.
Junior Mason Jim for Warner is a force to reckoned with. He leads the Eagles with 127.6 rushing yards per game. Warner is a run-first team securing 213 yards on the ground to only 52.9 through the air.
Against Gore, last week, Hulbert was able to slow down the run once it reverted back to a three man defensive line. Sapulpa said he will try to mix it up and continue with his not-so-successful four-man front.
"We're going to have to play really well and can't turn the ball over. We have a problem with turnovers still," Sapulpa said.
Warner narrowly lost to Gore 6-7 in week four and the 4-4 team still has more to prove.
Hulbert will rely on senior fullback/linebacker Jacob Beall, senior wide receiver Michael Gordon and junior quarterback Walker Eaton. Gordon started the first three games for the Riders as signal caller, but his athleticism is better served as receiver. Eaton, getting his second start Friday, is improving everyday according to his coach.
"He's picked things up pretty good. He'll be ready to go," Sapulpa said. "He completes the short stuff really well, the deeper stuff he's got a little bit to work on."
Eaton completed 13 of 24 attempts for 109 yards in last week's 49-6 loss to Gore. His completion percentage is nearly 20 percent higher than Gordon's was.
"Last week the first turnover was because one of our receivers ran the wrong route," Sapulpa said. "We could also block better [this week]. If we remember the routes and plays that's going to help us. We just gotta remember how to execute our plays we call."
Additionally, looking back at last year the Eagles beat the Riders 8-0 and Sapulpa knows the strengths well. If Hulbert stays focused and continues to learn more about the upper echelon of the district they'll have a chance come playoffs when each school earns a bid. This is the impact of the pandemic on local sports.
"The boys are pumped up [about getting an extra week]," Sapulpa said. "They are ready to roll. I level with them though because if we're low we are going to be playing a high ranked team."
Kickoff is Friday 7 p.m. at Warner High School field.