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Football: Winless Colonels need better line play at Franklin

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By Brad Stephens

Oldham County is still searching for the right combinations on its offensive and defensive lines and its first win of the Mike Shatzer era.

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The Colonels face maybe their toughest test of the schedule at 7:30 p.m. Friday, a road game at Class 5A No. 6 Franklin County.

Coach Chris Tracy’s Flyers (1-0) beat Western Hills 42-6 last week in their opener.

“They’re all about speed,” Shatzer, first-year Colonels coach, said about Franklin. “They’re very fast.

“…They don’t do a lot but what they do they do very well. They’re all about speed and getting to the edge and getting the ball in their playmakers’ hands.”

The game will likely be decided in the trenches, Shatzer said. That’s an area where OC (0-2) has been ineffective thus far in 2014.

The Colonels, who spent the offseason revamping their rushing game, ran for just over 50 yards in a 29-19 loss to Iroquois Aug. 22.

Then OC ran for -10 yards in a 42-7 loss at North Oldham last Friday. Starting running back Jason Henry gained 10 yards on 11 carries against the Mustangs.

“We knew that was an area we’d have to develop,” Shatzer said of his offensive line, which also allowed three North sacks. “We’re making a wholesale philosophy change from what we did last year.

“They were more passive blocking, sitting back… Now we’re trying to be more aggressive."

The front five should benefit from the additions of Jacob Brown, who’d been playing defensive line, and Clayton Wilson, who’s back from a two-game suspension.

“He’s versatile and he’s a big body,” Shatzer said of Wilson, a sophomore. “He’s got a motor about him so he can help us in some different spots.

“We’re looking at maybe switching up our guards a little bit and doing some different things. We’ve got faith in our kids, we’ve just got to do a better job in preparation and execution.”

The defense allowed North to run for 297 yards and six touchdowns Friday. Much of that was due to the Mustang offensive line pushing around the Colonel defensive front.

Facing a Franklin team that likes to use zone principles in the running game, Shatzer is giving his defensive line some help by moving linebacker Alex McIntosh to defensive tackle.

McIntosh, a standout for the Colonel wrestling team, started the season opener at middle linebacker alongside Brian Barmantje.

“We’re going to move him down to defensive tackle and utilize his speed,” Shatzer said. “He’s a hell of a wrestler. He understands the use of leverage.”

The Colonels will be large underdogs against a Flyer team expected to figure into the Class 5A title picture.

OC’s coach said he wants to see his team put up a battle for 48 minutes Friday in Frankfort.

“We just have to compete,” Shatzer said. “We competed for about the first quarter and a half on Friday against North and then we kind of stopped playing.

“…We just know we’ve got to keep going on the process, keep lifting weights, keep pushing ourselves, keep practicing hard. It’s just a wholesale mindset change here and it’s a good challenge to have. We’re not panicking, we’re not giving up on our kids. We know it’s a challenge, the kids know it’s a challenge, we’re just staying on the course.”