Pasadena, TX–When Fort Bend Travis head coach Randy Cunningham was asked how he planned to stop Clear Creek’s stud receiver/running back C.J. McElroy, he laughed.
“After watching film, I can say the first person that jumps out at you is him–he’s an outstanding running back,” the Tigers’ coach said about McElroy, who is a candidate for the Houston Touchdown Club’s Offensive Player of the Year. “Our plan is to contain him the best we can because a kid like that you just don’t stop.”
This season, the speedy and elusive running back has shredded defenses for 1,287 yards on 122 carries (10.55 yards per carry), scoring 20 touchdowns.
That’s why Cunningham knows that in order to give his team the best shot at a victory in the first round of the 2010 UIL Class 5A Division II football playoffs against Clear Creek, the defense must rise to the occasion and prevent him from running for huge gains.
“We’d like to think our defense is pretty good.” Cunningham said. “We’ll have a good challenge [defending him], Clear Creek’s offense in general and Clear Creek’s football team in general because they’re outstanding.”
Darrell Warden, the sixth year coach of the Creek (7-3, 4-3), is fully aware of the challenge that is ahead for his Wildcats and that Travis’ defense will pose strategic problems for the Wildcats offense.
“Their scheme is tough because they present a lot of different looks,” Warden said. “We’ve just got to be able to pick up on what they are trying to do from our offense’s standpoint.”
But even if Travis (6-4, 3-1) is unable to stop Creek’s offense, they may be able to have success against the Wildcats because of the gradual improvement by their offense as the season has moved on. The Tigers were able to effectively move the ball against Bush and Elkins, the top two ranked defenses in 23-5A. Travis has done this behind a platoon of big playmakers such as tailbacks R.J. Noriega and Kelton Rhine as well as the unsung forgotten heroes.
“It always starts with the offensive line,” he said “We’ve had those guys together for about three or four games and they’re starting to gel.”
Forecasts call for rain in the Houston Area over the weekend, something that is not a major concern for Warden because Creek’s offense is very run oriented. Never the less, he still felt it was a good idea for the team to get used to the conditions they may be faced with come this weekend.
“[Wednesday], it rained real hard and we stayed out in it and practiced for about an hour just to get the experience of practicing in the rain,” he said. “We gotta practice everything and we felt that was a good situation to practice in.”
Rain, shine, wind, hail or sleet, Clear Creek and Fort Bend Travis will face off Saturday night at Memorial Stadium in Pasadena at 7 p.m. The winner will advance to play the winner of La Porte and South Houston in Round 2.