STORY BY: JORDAN MESEROLE
After facing a speedy team last week, the Rudder Rangers will once again have to square off against another fast team on Friday night at Merrill Green Stadium as they matchup against the C.E. King Panthers out of Houston.
And more importantly, Rudder head coach C.M. Pier has to hope his offense gets back on track.
In last week’s below average performance against Navasota, the Rangers only tallied up one total first down in the first half of the game, and were held to negative four yards of rushing. Turnovers and penalties also plagued Rudder in the 34-7 loss at Rattler Stadium.
Like they did against Navasota, the Rudder defense will once again face a spread-attack style offense that C.E. King features, led by junior quarterback John Portillo who hit the end zone twice on passing plays of 80 and 66 yards last week.
Despite having to be on the field for well over half of the game against Navasota, the Rudder defense still showed signs of strength even lacking Austin Baron, who is expected to return to the lineup this week, and David Wilganowski, who is out for the rest of the season after collapsing on the field in the Rangers’ second game of the season. Rudder linebackers Kody Burton and A’Shanian Smith led the effort to stop Navasota last week, racking up nine tackles each.
This will be the second time Rudder has met up with District 4A-19 C.E. King, the last meeting coming in 2011 in which Rudder came away with a 24-6 victory. However, it is also the second year for the Panthers’ head coach Lydell Wilson, whose squad only lost a handful of players in last year’s graduating class, and has looked much stronger in its first two games of this season as compared to last.
Rudder will look to try and keep from falling too far behind its rivals in District 4A-16, including three which are 3-0 already this season. Rudder starts district play next week against Hutto.
Kickoff for Friday’s game against C.E. King is set for 7:30 p.m.