PINEVILLE — The Mountain Lions are back at home Friday, as they try to put the sting of last week’s 70-22 loss to Williamsburg behind them. Pineville hosts Lynn Camp in a rivalry game that features two coaches who know each other very well.
Lion coach Bart Elam and new Lynn Camp coach Phil Russell were teammates and roommates at Union College. Russell was hired as the Wildcats head coach this summer, after serving as an assistant at Union and has installed the same spread offense that Union and Pineville both employ.
Lynn Camp is 1-2. They opened the season with a 40-14 win over East Ridge, but managed just six points the last two weeks in blowout losses to bigger schools South Laurel and Madison Southern.
“We’re really close friends and everything Phil has done there is right within his character. He’s a real exciting guy, never down, always up. Their team is starting to take his attitude,” Elam said. “They’ve got a little pep in their step, they’re a spread team, doing some different things. It’s a learning curve going from a power football team that they’ve been for 30 years to the spread.”
The Lions also enter Friday’s game at 1-2. They opened with a very competitive loss to North Laurel, routed McCreary Central 46-6 and were plagued by turnovers in last week’s loss to Williamsburg in the City/County Bowl.
Elam said his team is mentally tough enough to put the big loss to the Yellow Jackets behind them as they get ready for the Wildcats.
“We’ve gotten mentally stronger each year and mentally strong teams don’t do that. You win some, you lose some but you strap it on each night and come out and play hard,” the coach said. “It becomes an individual effort type of thing, a competitive thing where you say, ‘I don’t want to get beat tonight.’ I think our kids will be okay.”
Junior quarterback Aaron Mills leads the Lynn Camp offense and his favorite targets are senior receiver Ryan Donley and junior Trenton Medlin. Running back Tommy Hatfield found the end zone three times in the season-opening win.
Elam said the Wildcats should get better each week as they get used to the new offense.
“Lynn Camp has got some athletes. But it’s one of those things where you can’t ever look like an athlete if you don’t know exactly where you’re going. The offense is new to them, but they’ve got some speed there. Once they get comfortable with those new schemes they’ll be just fine,” he said.
“Number 10 (Donley) is a real good athlete, probably 6-2, 200 pounds. He runs a really good go route, a really good post route, that type of thing. That’s going to present problems for us. “They don’t have anybody like (Skyler) Griffith that we faced last week, but who does? He’s a great player. But we’ve got to get down and work to be in this football game and win it.”
Senior quarterback Jamie Roan leads Pineville’s offense. He threw for two touchdowns and ran for another last week. Senior running back Andrew Douglas had trouble finding room to run, but should be primed for a big bounce-back game. Tanner Mike and Jared Philpot caught the touchdown passes and senior Byron Asher provides a big red zone target. Connor Ford is day-to-day after leaving last week’s game with a stinger.
Taking care of the football is the big key for the Lions as turnovers have played a huge role in both of their losses.
“We can’t kill ourselves. North Laurel and Williamsburg are two really good football teams, but as far as match-ups we did a decent job,” Elam said. “We just absolutely handed them 30 points last week and you can’t do that against a good football team. They ended up scoring 70, so they were going to score 30 or 40 anyway.
“We can’t take sacks, can’t turn it over and we can’t give up big plays on defense. When we’re not doing those things, we’re a good football team.”
Friday’s game kicks off at 7:30 p.m.