In the week leading up to games against nearby teams, players and coaches alike are doing everything they can to avoid providing their opponent with bulletin board material, at times complimenting their opponents in areas where they may not even praise themselves.
That’s not the case for Carroll and Neville: when their coaches compliment one another’s teams, they mean it.
When Carroll and Neville meet on Friday night, a vastly improved Carroll team will be going up against a Neville program with the longest active winning streak in the state.
“I think they’re an improving team and I think they’ll certainly be ready to play Neville, they always are,” Neville coach Mickey McCarty said. “I can tell they’re excited to play. Obviously coming off a win gave them extra pep in their step in their preparation, I’m sure, and they played well enough last week to win. They weren’t playing not to lose, they were playing to win and they made the plays to do it.”
Carroll coach Jackie Hamilton added, “They’ve got a great system up there.”
Hamilton heaped specific praise on the Neville defense.
“Their front is real athletic, they play the run real well. We’re going to have to do some things to nullify (Neville defensive tackle Rashard Lawrence): double team him, run away from him. We’re not going to change our game that much. We run it inside and we run it outside, so we’re going to try to keep him moving.”
McCarty made note of the Carroll defense, as well, citing the new coaches on their defensive staff and the impact they have made.
“Defensively, they always play us tough. You can see they’re sound in what they’re doing,” he said.
Both defenses are in for a handful, however. The Carroll defense has the task of stopping Neville’s deadly two-quarterback system with Chris Haynes and Jaiden Cole, while McCarty sees a weapon in Carroll quarterback Jerry Brown.
“We’re definitely looking forward to the challenge. We’re going to do everything possible to nullify what they do well,” Hamilton said.
McCarty added, “Offensively, they’ve got a quarterback that’s doing a good job. He throws it accurately and can throw it across the field and down the field to really stretch you out. They have speed at the wide receiver position. I think that their scheme this year on offense is the best scheme I’ve seen them have in some time. They seem to know what they want to do and the kids are bought in to that.”
Hamilton also has his players bought into a winning mentality – while the rest of the state would consider a Carroll win an upset, he isn’t thinking that way.
“We’re going in there expecting to win. If they want to say it’s an upset, they can say it’s an upset, but to be honest with you, we’re going in there to win,” Hamilton said. “We’re going to go in and play our game and give 100 percent. We’re going to do what we do and if it’s good enough to win, we’ll be find with the win, and if we come up short, we’re going to be fine with our effort.”
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