Albany football coach David Knight knows facing Parkview Baptist is going to be a challenge for his team, and it may be a bit bigger than expected.
The Hornets (1-1) will host the Eagles (0-3) at 7 p.m. Friday without quarterback J.J. Doherty, who injured his shoulder in last week’s 36-14 win over Springfield.
Knight said Doherty injured his shoulder on a play in which Antonio Lopinto recovered a fumble.
“For safety precautions, he’s going to be out this week,” Knight said of Doherty.
With Doherty out, the Hornets’ offensive game plan will obviously change with sophomore Aiden Casteel starting at quarterback.
“We were going to add some stuff in to get the ball to some of guys against what (Parkview does) bad,” Knight said. “Of course, J.J.’s our main ball carrier, and with him hurt, this forces us back to doing something different. The guy that’s going in is a really great kid. He’s a really smart kid. He can run this offense, but it keeps everything bottled up again, so it just changes our mindset of what we were going to try to do for this week anyway.”
Casteel played the second half of the Springfield game after Doherty was injured.
“Aiden’s going to be fine,” Knight said, noting Casteel ran a clock chewing drive to end the game last week. “He knows how to run the offense. He knows what the offense is about and what we expect. I thought he did a great job of clock management. There’s not a lot of kids in the world that are starters that understand clock management.
“He ran our offense, and our offense is designed to kill things like that, and that’s what it did,” Knight said. “I’ve got confidence in him. I’m not a bit scared of putting him in there. I wish he was a little bit bigger. He’s kind of light. He’s young. He hasn’t grown. He hasn’t hit his growth spurt, and he doesn’t have the speed J.J.’s got, but he’s going to be able to run this thing correctly, and I don’t have a problem with that. I’ll just have to figure out some stuff that lets him use the talents he’s got.”
The Hornets are looking to build on the victory over Springfield.
“We were able to simulate some practice in the mud to get ready for the game, and I thought we did a real good job of adjusting, not having a great practice but being able to adjust to the game, remembering what they did in practice,” Knight said. “We had most of our boys there. Most of them were healthy the other night. I thought that was a good thing.”
Knight spoke highly of the Hornets’ defense, which allowed both touchowns to Springfield on fourth down.
“We actually had our hands on the ball twice,” Knight said. “We should have picked off two passes, and it would have been a shutout. We held them deep until fourth down, so we had some good things happen last week.”
One of the main concerns for Knight coming out of the Springfield game is the play of the offensive line, which has used several starting combinations throughout the spring and into the season.
“We need to get better blocking,” Knight said. “Our line is just not where we want it yet. If we can get our line to do what we need them to do, then the backs would do what they have to do. It’s hard to come in and expect them to be able to do this stuff right off the bat.”
Knight was blunt in his assessment of Parkview, which is coming off a 42-3 loss to Madison Prep.
“They’re just big, man,” he said. “They’re big and they’re strong. They’ve got kids that are built like football players all over the place, and there’s a whole bunch of them.”
“They’re big and they’re strong and they run the ball behind those big linemen,” Knight continued.
“They’re just going to be stronger than us up front,” Knight said. “My worry this week is that they’re just going to shove us back because they’re probably 60 pounds heavier than us per man, and that’s if we’ve got our big guys in.”
Knight also praised the Eagles’ effort on defense.
“If you want to look at a team on film that gets to the ball, they have ben taught well,” he said. “They’re pumped up every play. Nobody walks. There’s not a kid on their team walking. You look at some films and you’ve got guys standing around when the plays over. Not them. They’re getting to the ball every play. That’s what you strive as a coach to get all your teams to do.”