TENNERTON – When asked what the objective was last week heading into their bye week, Buckhannon-Upshur head coach Zach Davis simply said to get better.
With 13 days to prepare for John Marshall, Davis said he feels his Bucs are indeed better since their last game on Sept. 17 in a loss to Greenbrier East.
According to Davis, the Bucs have put in two solid weeks of practice since their last game.
“We had some really good practices last week and this week,” stated Davis. “They might have been some of our best practices of the year. We are practicing harder and developing more competition. As far as our bye week, we really went after each other. I think our effort was better as well in these last two weeks. I keep telling the team that they better bring it in practice or someone else will be playing. They are finally responding to that message. They know when it’s their turn to get in for reps, they better perform if they want to play. They are definitely competing in practice.”
The Bucs will welcome the Monarchs, who are 3-2 on the season and ranked 17th in the WVSSAC Class AAA rankings, to Freal “Red’ Crites Memorial Stadium Friday for a 7:30 p.m. kick-off.
The Monarchs are coming off of a 28-25 road loss last week to Parkersburg South.
Davis said they play a very similar style of offense to the Bucs.
“They look a lot like us on offense,” noted Davis. “They like to run the ball and have some play-action. Even in the shotgun, they are going to run the ball. Their coaching staff does a nice job with them.”
John Marshall is led by 6-1, 175-pound junior quarterback Jacob Coffield.
“Coffield does a nice job from them but I am really impressed with their offensive line,” stated Davis. “On defense, they are big. It’s like every player is a clone of another player because they all have nice size.”
The game will be not only homecoming for the Bucs but also their home opener as their scheduled home opener with Bridgeport on Aug. 27 was postponed and Buckhannon-Upshur has been on the road for three straight weeks along with their bye week thrown in the mix.
“It’s awesome to finally be at home,” remarked Davis. “It’s homecoming, we are in front of our home fans, I know the team is going to compete and that is all you can ask for. It will be nice not to have a four-hour bus ride.”
While some coaches may see homecoming as a distraction, Davis is embracing the pomp and circumstance that comes with it.
“I have learned with COVID-19, that you have to embrace what you are given,” said Davis. “During this pandemic, you take the hand that you are dealt and go with it and enjoy it. Homecoming is special, you only get four of these. Have fun with it. I got to crown our queen, Cameron Zuliani, who also happens to be our kicker. I was a bit nervous about that but it turned out well.”
The Bucs will get a boost on the line with the return of Alex Bennett into the starting line-up. The senior lineman and leader has yet to play a snap for the Bucs this season.
“He is a the true leader of these guys and they respond to him in a way that is different to the other players,” said Davis. “It’s a blessing to have him back.”
Davis said if the Bucs want to secure the win Friday night they need to start fast out of the blocks.
“We need a fast start,” concluded Davis. “Even the game we won with Philip Barbour we let them score first. But we need to have a better start to this game than our previous three. We have to find that button that gets it going. If we can start fast I think we have a good shot.”
Following Friday night’s game with John Marshall, the Bucs will remain home to take on Lewis County next week.