Tonight at 7:30 the Campbell County Cougars are set to have their home opening contest vs the Carter Hornets. Last season the Cougars seemed to dominate the Hornets everywhere but the scoreboard. The Hornets stuck around and the Cougars found themselves in a down to the wire battle that was decided on a Thomas Johnson field goal as the clock expired.

This season the Cougars looked better than last years unit during the game vs Cocke County. Unfortunately for Cougar Nation the Hornets looked much improved themselves in their opener vs southern Tennessee 5A power Rhea County. After losing to Rhea County 42-6 in 2019, Carter only lost 20-14 in overtime to Rhea County last week. The Hornets put the ball in the air over 50 times during that game. That may not be as feasible this week with the remnants of Hurricane Laura approaching the area. Wind gusts of 35 to 40 mph are possible in the area as are heavy rain showers.

The Cougar offense is also a pass heavy attack but the Cougars didn’t push the ball deep down the field very often last week. Instead relying on the traditional Price short passing attack. This resulted in over 200 yards passing and three touchdowns to three different pass catchers for QB Hunter White. The Cougars also showed the ability to run the ball with C.J. Allen who compiled over 50 yards on the ground and another 50 catching passes. The run attack had a short yardage failure last week on 4th and 3 but otherwise did well when called upon.

If the Cougar offensive line is healthy that short yardage situation is less likely to repeat itself. However there is the potential that some of the offensive line won’t play in the game tonignt. Ben Conrad already missed last week against Cocke County. The Cougar OL needs him back and needs to be as healthy as possible to reduce total snaps for players who play both ways.

Defensively the Cougars dominated Cocke County for the second year in a row. The Fighting Cocks only managed 3 points in 8 quarters in their 2 games vs CCHS. Last year that strong week 1 didn’t translate to Carter as well as the Cougar staff would have liked. However the Cougars only gave up 21 points in that game.

The defensive team is a year older, stronger and more experienced this season. Blake Taylor was nearly unblockable in week 1. Taylor will need to maintain that pressure on the Carter Quarterback if they are thinking of throwing the ball like they did vs Rhea County last week. C.J. Allen had two interceptions and will need to continue to be a ball hawk and with the aforementioned Hornet passing attack, should have further chances. Will Lester didn’t play very much last season at Carter. He was a freshman in his second game ever. However since gaining starter status late last fall he has been excellent. He racked up tackle after tackle last week against Cocke County. Desmond Gilbert had a big sack last week and Wyatt Sharp made his linebacker debut with solid play on the outside.

Those Cougar linebackers are extremely good and should pace the defense behind offensive line occupying troops like Blake Taylor, Carson Meade, Jordan Pierce, Josh Moore and Jadon White. Carter will try to run a lot of plays so the big guys who go both ways on offense and defense will need to reach deep inside to find their well of stamina.

All in all both teams look better than they did at this point last season. The Cougars have the home field advantage and they also appear to have a more diverse attack. However, as mentioned, film is limited on Carter at this point in 2020. With bad weather possible and the Cougars having a better overall offense, plus being used to playing on actual grass, the home field advantage should provide Campbell County with the winning edge.

The stadium capacity is limited, masks are required and rain protection will very likely be needed. The game will be streamed live here on The Volunteer Times Facebook page with our coverage beginning at 7:00 pm. This week we will feature more great Cougar trivia and there will be prizes for those Cougar fans in the know.