WEIRTON - Coaches never know what to expect when their team is coming off of a tough loss and in Madonna's case when returning from a bye week. The Blue Dons return to Jimmy Carey Stadium at 7 p.m. Friday night to face Fort Frye.
Doug Taylor, the Blue Don mentor, feels confident his charges learned a lot about themselves in the 28-22 lightning-delayed loss two weeks ago at rival Wheeling Central.
"It (the delay) was the same for both teams," Taylor said. "Somehow, we lost momentum in that hour and half while Central got rejuvenated. Maybe they just wanted it more than we did."
Taylor said the Blue Dons took the week off as a time for reflection and to work on some of the things that the coaching staff doesn't normally have time to work on when preparing for opponents on a weekly basis.
"We also used the time as coaches to reflect on whether we were becoming predictable in our play calling and just discussing what we need to do to get better," Taylor explained.
Turning his attention to Friday's homecoming opponent, Fort Frye, Taylor said he is concerned with the Cadets' ability to score points.
(games at 7 p.m. unless noted)
49 Valley 0
22 at Wheeling Central 28
Sept. 14 Fort Frye
Sept. 21 at Cameron, 7:30 p.m.
Sept. 29 Bridgeport
Oct. 5 at B. Donahue, 7:30 p.m.
Oct. 12 at Notre Dame, 7:30 p.m.
Oct. 20 at Catholic Central
Oct. 27 Toronto
Nov. 3 Clay-Battelle
"They average about 40 points a game," he pointed out. "You never feel comfortable playing against a team like that because you know that no lead is big enough. You go ahead by a touchdown or two and with their ability to score quickly from anywhere on the field, you can look up at the scoreboard and find you are two touchdowns behind."
After a slow start in the opener, a 38-13 loss to River, the Cadets have turned on the jets. They beat Belpre 45-20 and last week raced to a 63-13 win over Waterford.
"Their offense is built for speed and that's what they have, speed and quickness," said Taylor, who scouted the Cadets last week. "Their biggest guy up front is 196 pounds and the rest of the linemen are in the 165-180 range. They rely on quickness. What they do, they do really well."
He said the Cadet quarterback, Chandler Lang, is a tough kid, who runs and passes the football well.
"Lang, a junior, also plays inside linebacker for them. You don't see many quarterbacks that play inside linebacker," Taylor said. "Their running back is Spencer Lang, a senior. I don't know if they are brothers or cousins, but from what I saw, Fort Frye wants to get the ball in Spencer Lang's hands. They also have a nice fullback in Max Alfbach."
He said the Cadets play the type of defense that bends, but doesn't break.
"The give you a couple of different looks defensively, so that changes our blocking schemes depending upon what they are in," Taylor explained. "They have a patient defense that will give up yardage waiting for you to make a mistake or turnover."
While speaking of turnovers, Taylor said he is concerned that his Blue Dons (1-1) have not created a turnover in two games while turning it over three times.
"We have no picks (interceptions) or fumble recoveries," he said. "That's one of the things we worked on over the past two weeks. We stressed getting take aways and if we don't get better at it, we could be in for a long season. On the other hand, we have given up the ball three times thus far."
Taylor said Homecoming is important to the school and the players, but he said the coaching staff continues to stress the need to keep things in focus.
"We have to take care of business on Friday night and if we do the homecoming dance on Saturday we be much more enjoyable," he said.