Pineville will enter Friday’s game against Cumberland Gap, Tennessee fresh off a bye week. While there are not many injuries that had to be nursed over that period, the team had time to adjust to a clear absence on the sideline.
Head coach Bart Elam will serve his final game suspension on Friday stemming from an ejection against Middlesboro on Sept. 2. Chris Murphy will remain as the interim-head coach in his absence.
“I’ve been on that sideline for 11 years straight, so it was different for them not to see me out there last week,” said Elam. “I hope the shock of me not being out there is over…Hopefully this week, they’ll be a little more comfortable without me there. Hopefully, we can pull out a win, and everything will be back to normal next week.”
As far as his staff goes, Elam said they don’t need him to coach a good game plan.
“My coaching staff is more than capable of coaching a good football game without me,” said Elam.
One member of the team who will be on the sidelines Friday is standout wide receiver Will Adams. The senior currently leads the team in receiving yards despite missing last week due to an ejection during the Middlesboro game.
“He’s our big play guy. He’s our all-stater on the team,” said Elam. “We missed him last week against Paris, so it’s a plus for sure to get him back. On the other side of that, the kids played without him, and they learned they could play without him.”
Both teams will enter Friday’s game looking to win their second game of the season.
Know the Panthers
According to Elam, Cumberland Gap runs the Wing-T and prefers to run the football directly at their opponents. They only throw the ball when they have to.
“On film, they show a big physical team. They play some good football,” said Elam. “They’re 1-3, but they’re a lot like us to where they played a couple good teams and came up a little short.”
Elam said the team is little different than they have been in previous years, and the scoreboard reflects that. Cumberland Gap broke a nearly 20-game losing streak to start the season with a 20-18 victory over Hancock County, Tennessee. The Panthers narrowly missed out on a victory against their in-county rival. Claiborne defeated Cumberland Gap, 26-21.
“They’re different from the last couple of years now that coach (DeLynn) Cline took the job,” said Elam. “He’s trying to run the football and create kind of a hard-nosed brand for his team. They’re much improved from last year.”
Friday’s game will mark the third straight time that Pineville has played a team that looks to run the ball at the defense. Elam said it will be a little different this time because Cumberland Gap doesn’t possess the kind of speed that Middlesboro or Paris did.
“We’ve not prepared any different than any other week,” said Elam. “We get our scouting report done, watch film, make our kids watch film on huddle, and we got out and prepare with their plays in mind and defense in mind.”
Defensively, the Panthers like to blitz and pressure offenses.
Reach Anthony Cloud at 606-302-9090 or on Twitter @AnthonyCloudMDN