ALBANY – As far as Albany coach Mike Janis is concerned, his team’s push for the postseason has already begun.
It’s up to the Hornets to keep their momentum going in a non-district game at Breaux Bridge on Friday.
Albany was originally scheduled to face Beau Chene but picked Breaux Bridge Thursday afternoon after the Gators had to cancel because of COVID-19 issues.
“It’s a point of the season where you can find some attitudes, motivation can start to decline, kind of the doldrums of the football season because you’re not quite to the playoffs and that excitement yet and you’re to the tail end of the season with it being a non-district game,” Janis said. “We don’t want any of that. We want to carry ourselves just like we did last week and play a complete football game.”
Part of the effort in a 63-21 win over Loranger last week included a 414-yard, seven-touchdown rushing effort as a team. Quarterback J.J. Doherty had 12 carries for 130 yards and two touchdowns, Antonio Lopinto added eight carries for 102 yards and a TD and Reece Wolfe had 11 carries for 98 yards and two TDs to pace the effort.
Doherty also went 9-for-11 for 158 yards and two TDs passing.
“We saw an offensive line who did a good job coming off the ball,” Janis said. “We played assignment football. Guys did their jobs. We played well. We played to our potential, which is something we talked about and I wanted to see happen.”
The rushing effort was the Hornets’ (4-2) best of the season as a team, which Janis said was a focal point heading into last week’s game.
“It’s something as coaches we talked about the weekend after Sumner is making more of a commitment to the run game, specifically the downhill run game,” Janis said. “(Albany offensive coordinator) Coach (Carmon) Moore came up with some good schemes, and we went out and executed. Any time you have a big lead, you’re going to run the football. In the second half, all we did was run the football. We did a really good job at it and were able to push the ball down the field a couple of times and get some scores.”
Janis said that run game is another wrinkle to help the Hornets expand their game plan.
“I think we already had a dynamic offense and a dynamic playmaker in J.J. and when you have somebody like that, the defense has now got to be responsible for him all over the field,” Janis said. “You’ve got to cover the pass, cover the run, cover sideline to sideline. What we’ve been lacking and what teams have been doing is really kind of teeing off on us and getting pressure up the middle running those pass blitzes, and now we’ve got to make them be disciplined. They’ve got to respect our running game and be disciplined and play gap assignment football and maybe that will take a little pressure off the blitzes.”
Justin Coats led the Hornets on defense with 10 tackles, while Austin Watts added nine.
“I was really pleased with our pressure packages and our ability to get in the backfield,” Janis said. “I was really happy with that. I thought the defensive line played well. Reece Wolfe, I thought, had an outstanding game in hist blitzes. I thought Lane Eyster probably had his best game defensively, and I thought we did a good job.”
The Hornets travel to face Class 4A Breaux Bridge (1-5), which is coming off a 42-20 win over Beau Chene.
While the turnaround for his team will be quick, a plus for Janis and his staff is that Breaux Bridge and Beau Chene played each other last week, giving them some game film on their new opponent.
"We look at some of the things that they did well in the game that gave Beau Chene problems and some of the things they did well defensively that was able to stop Beau Chene, but we're not really scouting them out," Janis said. "We've got some ideas on what they do and what they do well and what they hang their hats on offensively and defensively. That's what we'll look at (Thursday). We're not going to go out and kill our kids (Thursday) because we want them fresh and ready for the game (Friday), so it will be kind of a normal Thursday practice, but a little more emphasis on the team period."
Janis said one of the keys for the Hornets will be relying on things that have worked for them thus far this season.
"That's why we practice our base defense and our base offense, and that's why we continue to work things week after week and get good at them," Janis said. "When you get in a situation in a game where maybe what you're trying to do isn't working, you've got to be able to rely on something. Off the top of my head before I really get to study Breaux Bridge too much, I know that there's things that we do defensively well that we think we can hang our hat on, and there's things that we do offensively well that we can hang our hat on."