When it comes to experience, the Mexico Bulldogs feature a lot of young ‘pups,’ according to their coach, Ty Harrison.
“We’ve got more youth than veterans. We’ve got quite a few sophomores. We lost almost all our skill kids from last year and we’ve replaced them with sophomores mainly,” said Harrison, whose Bulldogs will play host to the Hannibal Pirates at 7 p.m. Friday. “We’ve got some juniors who didn’t play varsity football or football last year, so our junior class is pretty inexperienced. We’ve only got three seniors right now.”
The young Bulldogs are off to an 0-3 start, but that record should be taken with a grain of salt.
“We opened up with St. Joe Lafayette and they’re really tough. Then we played California at California in a downpour of rain. Both of those teams are currently undefeated. Then we played Marshall last week on the road, so we’ve had a pretty good schedule to open up with,” said Harrison.
Another challenge is coming Mexico’s way on Friday night.
“They’re good as usual,” said Harrison of the 3-0 and state-ranked Pirates. “The option concerns us a little bit because with the youth we have on defense we’re going to have to be sound in our assignments on defense against that. If we’re not they’re going to kill us on the option game. I’d say our main concern is stopping that (option) and being sound assignment-wise defensively.
“Offensively we want to try and keep them off-balance by throwing and running the ball. We’re looking at trying to sustain some drives and keeping our defense off the field a little bit.”
Scheme-wise the Pirates won’t do anything Mexico hasn’t already encountered.
“We’ve faced the option already and the type of defense they run. They just execute very well and do things well,” said Harrison.
Harrison is happy the Pirates won’t present any new wrinkles.
“It helps especially with the young and inexperienced kids we have because it allows us to say, ‘We’ve seen this before,’” he said. “We’re just going to have to be sound in what we’re doing and execute our assignments.”
The Bulldogs have been showing improvement. One bright spot in last week’s 35-15 loss to Marshall was its ground game.
“We ran the ball better last week than the first two weeks. A lot of that probably has to do with who we were playing and we’ve been working on it hard in practice,” said Harrison. “We have a new running back. We have a couple of linemen back from last year, but we’re relatively inexperienced on the line also. We’ve been working hard in practice at being balanced on offense.”
Page 2 of 2 - Junior Jamel Taylor rushed for 94 yards on 16 carries last week. The 5-8, 185-pounder gained 63 of those yards on one play.
An added plus this week for Mexico is a return to good health.
“Last week was rough on us as far as health goes. We had several kids out of practice each day. We had strep throat going around and we had kids home with the flu, so it was hard to get any continuity in practice,” said Harrison. “I think most of that has passed through now and I think we’re on the mend. We’ve had practices this week where we actually had more kids there, so that’s helpful for us.”