Jaxson Harrah (11) of North Union makes a cut upfield during last week’s game at Heath. The Wildcats will face off against a tough London team on Friday. (Photo submitted)
The North Union Wildcat gridiron squad heads into Friday evening’s game with a tall order in front it on its home field.
The Cats will square off against the Red Raiders of London, a team that has had the recent taste of playoff success and has plenty of returning players to make them a threat to repeat this year.
“They are a 3-0 football team,” NU head coach Nick Hajjar said. “They went multiple rounds in the playoffs last year.
“They have a lot of upper classmen playing on both sides of the ball,” he said. “They are big, physical kids, they try to out-discipline you and they play really hard.”
Coming off of a 22-21 stunning loss at Heath last week, Hajjar said his team doesn’t have time to dwell on that game. They must move forward.
“One thing I tell the kids is you can’t let last week beat you this week,” said Hajjar. “All we can do is learn from last week. It is London week and I hope some of the lessons we took from the last game, we can implement and use.”
The lessons will have to be learned quickly as the Cats will face a multiple-style defense that will show a three and four-man front.
That will keep NU’s running backs on their toes, according to Hajjar.
The Red Raiders will be led on offense by senior quarterback Juane Gardner.
London runs a traditional Wing T and will hand the ball off several times in the backfield.
“Offensively they have shown different looks, but foundationally they are a Wing T,” Hajjar said. “The one guy early in the season, Antwaun Burns, is not a big kid on paper. However, he runs bigger than he is and their quarterback (at 175 pounds) likes to block for them.”
Hajjar said that during London’s first three games – where they beat Urbana 62-7, Reigning Sports Academy 56-14 and Columbus Academy 48-7 – Gardner hasn’t really thrown the ball many times.
He does, though, have a strong arm.
With such a big task in front of the Wildcats ahead, Hajjar said it would be easy to point the finger of blame at anyone else.
However, his players will need to stand united into order to walk away with a win.
“We’ve got to lock arms and stick together,” he said. “The easiest thing to do when you have a setback, either in life or football, is to point fingers and blame.
“We can’t do that,” he said. “We can’t blame anyone else… we just have to go play and do what we do.”
With all the momentum leaning in favor of the Red Raiders, the Wildcats understand the tough task at hand.
However, their coach said they have a solid belief that the tough loss last week might be what brings them together to get past London.
“Right now they have a lot of good classes back-to-back,” Hajjar said. “They’ve got good numbers and the other thing is they got some strong kids.
“They’ve got a lot of momentum right now and somebody has to halt it at some point.
“Hopefully it is the Cats this week.”
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