"We've been preaching that all week, pursuit, angles, and, of course, tackling," said Bellmont football coach Rick Burkhalter on the football fundamentals that Bellmont will have to employ to stop one of the strongest runningbacks in the state, New Haven's Te'Vaughn Hurse.
The 3-3 Braves, fresh off a disappointing loss to Carroll in a game that Bellmont dominated statistically, have a few things to clean up on defense and special teams this week.
"Mentally, we just weren't with it," admitted Burkhalter. "We made mistakes on special teams and we just didn't do a good job of tackling (Corey) Nelson a couple of times, and it cost us," said Burkhalter of the 35-yard and 90-yard touchdown runs by the Carroll speedster.
"Assignments were missed. We should have had people in position to make those tackles. But you have to give the Carroll kid credit. He busted a few tackles and then just outran us."
Hurse is the latest of a long line of excellent backs that New Haven coach Jim Rowland has put on the field. Hurse is a 5-7, 176-poound junior who averages 222 yards per game, 9.0 yards a carry and he has 1,488 yards. He has scored 14 rushing touchdowns. He's listed as the top runner in the NHC and in the list of the top statistical leaders in the state, he's also listed No. 1 by VarVee.
"He has powerful legs, and then plenty of speed. We have to gang tackle," said Burkhalter.
No. 2 in the NHC is Bellmont's Daniel Meyer, who will certainly pass the 1,000 yard mark for the second straight year this week as he comes in at 961 yards and a 6.0 average, with 10 touchdowns. He's coming off a 200-yard rushing week against Carroll.
Hankenson has 405 yards and a 6.7 yards-per-carry average with six touchdowns. He caught a 42-yard TD pass from Bellmont QB Brian Fullenkamp last week. He has eight catches for 186 yards.
The Bulldogs, fresh off of a close loss at Columbia City, also have veteran quarterback Lucas Salerno, who has hit 33 of 58 for 472 yards and five touchdowns with just three interceptions.
The Braves will be without three starters this week. Besides QB Forrest Fullenkamp, out for the season with a knee injury, Bellmont will go without defensive back Brooks Faurote for a second straight week, and tackle Mason Turner, who took a tough hit last week and will be held out for precautionary reasons. Faurote has a sore shoulder.
Sophomore Josh Hall will replace Faurote, and Ben Baker will get his first start at offensive tackle.
"They have a lot of seniors starting, and it's shown in their play," said Burkhalter.
"It's going to be a challenge. We're going to have to play well and do what we do," said the coach.
The Braves average 347 yards per game, mostly rushing. New Haven averages 408.5 and has 12 fewer rushing yards than Bellmont.
New Haven is No. 1 in rushing defense in the league with 615 yards allowed so far. Bellmont has allowed 736, and is second in the NHC. In total defense, the Bulldogs yield only 228 yards per game, first in the league. Bellmont is fourth at 274.