Svehla expects the Longhorns, a first-year Class AAAAAA program led by former Sequoyah coach Sid Maxwell, to be very physical up front.
“Maxwell emphasizes the weight room and stopping the run, so I expect them to be physical at the line,” Svehla said. “They can really put the pressure on you by rushing downhill.”
Despite Lambert’s emphasis on stopping the run, Svehla plans to run the ball frequently early. He also wouldn’t rule out the Eagles taking to the air often as well.
Svehla will depend on senior quarterback Reeves Johnson to lead the offensive attack.
“We’re a run-first team, but, with Reeves at quarterback, we have a guy that can throw it, and we have some receivers that can catch it as well,” Svehla said.
Svehla expects his defense, which operates out of a 4-3 formation and has four returning starters, will have its hands full with Lambert’s rushing attack.
“They are a run-first team as well, so it’s key for us to stop them on the ground,” Svehla said.
Svehla is wary of Lambert lulling his defense to sleep with the run before taking to the air.
“We have to stay disciplined defensively,” he said. “Our linebackers and defensive backs have to stay on their key reads so that they don’t fall asleep.”
Leading Etowah’s core of linebackers will be junior James Arnold.
Svehla said he expects the team with the most discipline will be the one to win tonight’s game.
“Discipline is the most important attribute that our boys can have,” he said. “The first rule of winning is to not beat yourself. If you keep turning the ball over, or getting penalties, you’re going to get beat.”
Though Svehla isn’t sure what the score will be once the game ends tonight, he feels it will be a battle throughout.
“It’s going to be an extremely hard-fought game,” he said. “I’m ready to go. It’s time to put all of our practice to work.”