Dabney

Mayfield freshman quarterback Brajone Dabney (14) cuts to the outside against Ballard Memorial earlier this season.

Friday night’s matchup between the Mayfield Cardinals (9-1) and the Murray Tigers (8-2) is shaping up to be one of the best games in the state.

The Cardinals will have the opportunity to silence the naysayers as they look to avenge losses in their last two meetings with the Tigers at CFSB War Memorial Stadium.

Mayfield dropped heartbreakers to Murray in the second round of the 2A state playoffs last season, 28-21, in triple overtime, and once again in week 10 this season, 25-21.

This time out, with a trip to third round play on the line, Mayfield head coach Joe Morris said he believes his guys will come ready to take care of business.

“Our guys are focused and ready to play,” Morris said. “We know it's going to be tough. When we get them in some bad situations we have to stop them on the third and mediums, third and shorts and fourth shorts more than we did last time. They want to control the clock and keep us off the field and we know that, so when we get our opportunities we have to take advantage. We made too many mistakes on offense last time and we kept them in the game. We had chances to put them away and we just didn’t do it. When you keep a team like that in the game they’re going to make it hurt, and they did.”

It’s no secret what the Tigers’ gameplan will be on Friday night.

Murray ran the ball fluently all night against the Cardinals in their first meeting and with diligent blocking and disciplined play, things should be no different this time around.

Senior quarterback Rowdy Sokolowski rushed for 91 yards on 16 carries with three touchdowns and brother Gage tallied 87 yards on 24 carries in the Tigers’ 25-21 win on October 22.

Knowing the Tigers will try to run the ball down their throats all night long, Morris said the Cardinals defense will have to know their assignments and stay focused in order to be successful.

“We’re going to have to stop them on first and second down,” Morris said. “Murray will one or two yard you to death. They’re going to get some first downs but we have to be gap responsible and understand our assignments. I think our guys really understand what they have to do this time around and how responsible they have to be for their gaps. If they get that first down, we have to go back and keep playing.We think we have a good plan in place and we think our guys are going to execute that plan. We’ve had a great week of practice and the guys are ready to play so I think we’re going to go out there and play a really, really good football game.”

On offense, Morris and the Cardinals will look to do much of the same against the Tigers.

Establishing the run game with senior running backs Kylan Galbreath and Tre Barnes, as well as sophomore JuJu Starks, will be key for Mayfield.

Despite their rushing success earlier this season, the Cardinals’ ability to get sophomore quarterback Zane Cartwright going will be imperative if Mayfield wants to walk away with a win.

Cartwright threw for just 142 yards on 11-17 passing with zero touchdowns in his first matchup with Murray this season as a multitude of deep shots couldn't be hauled in.

Grabbing an early lead by launching the ball down field and forcing the Tigers into the passing game themselves will be Morris and the Cardinals’ top priority when the two teams line up on Friday night.

“We’ll try to establish the run game with Kylan, JuJu and Tre,” Morris said. “We have to make sure our offensive line stays with their blocks longer and keep their hands in. We had a couple of holding calls up at Madisonville and the last time against Murray and we just can’t have that. If we can give our backs a little room, they’re tough to tackle. We were fishing last time we played them, we moved the ball well and didn’t punt the entire night but the bottom line is we got down to the red zone and we didn’t convert. It’s going to be a good football game, we just can’t make those same mistakes or we’ll be hanging it up for the season.”