By Les Dixon / Sports Editor
Matt Rhymer's South Laurel Cardinals were the lone Tri-County football team that didn't open their season in Week Zero, but they'll be in action Saturday, hosting Class 3A power Wayne County in Cumberland Valley Bowl XIII.
The Cardinals are coming off a 1-9 season as Rhymer enters his first year coaching South Laurel. He’s installed a new offense, and he's the first to admit his team is an unknown, even to him, heading into the season.
“This team is an unknown, I really don't know what to expect until I see what they can do in game,” he said. “A lot of things are unknown to me as well — we've got to see how we execute, compete and stand up and fight when the game is on the line.
“Those are things we’ll be able to see (Saturday) against Wayne County,” he added. “I know our players are excited to play.”
Rhymer’s squad will have its hands full Saturday against what many consider Wayne County’s best team in school history.
Wayne County (1-0) is coming off a 44-14 win over Monroe County that saw the offense only rack up 258 yards, but the defense limited Monroe County to only 185 yards of total offense.
“Wayne County is a very good team,” Rhymer said. “They really have it going right now. I was able to watch them in person last week and it’s always good when you can do that.
“They are well-coached and they can run and throw the ball really well,” he added. “They have a lot of weapons and they have two good running backs, two good wide receivers and a very good quarterback and it makes it very hard to prepare for a team like them when they have so many weapons. We’ve got to be aware of their quarterback and their offense — they like to spread the ball around.”
Six different tailbacks saw action in Wayne County’s win last week with Junior Reize, 53 yards on seven carries, and Kadameion Branham leading the way with 47 yards on the ground while quarterback Tyler Guffey ran for 27 yards and two scores. He also completed eight-of-18 pass attempts for 158 yards rushing and two touchdowns.
Receiver Jason Perkins led the way with five receptions for 107 yards and two scores while Alan Brown finished with 25 yards receiving and Logan Gardner had 21 yards receiving.
“The key for us to win this game are simple,” Rhymer said. “We’ve got to go out there and believe we can win and have the right mindset. We also can’t turn the ball over and have good ball control — we’ve got to hold on to the football and we’ve got to block.
“Defensively, we’ve got to have great alignment and pressure the ball for the entire game — all four quarters,” he added. “We’ve got to make them (Wayne County) go all the way. We need to go out there and prove to our fans that we can compete four quarters and get the job done because right now, we are an unknown.”
Game time is set for 8:30 p.m. Saturday at South Laurel’s Gilliam Field.
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