The Mercer County Titans (6-5) dismantled the Clay County Tigers 53-14 Friday night, setting them up for a round two match up against the Knox Central Panthers (7-4).
Knox Central, who went 8-3 in 2014 and advanced to the second round of the playoffs, advanced to the second round after defeating Taylor County 35-7.
Mercer County and Knox Central have four common opponents this season, with each game turning out with the same results.
Both teams lost to both Southwestern High School and Wayne County, while both teams defeated Clay County and Taylor County.
Mercer lost to Southwestern 42-6 and fell to Wayne County 21-14. Knox Central lost to Southwestern 26-15 and Wayne County 35-24.
The Titans defeated Taylor County 42-12, while Knox Central won this past Friday 35-7. The Panthers beat Clay County earlier in the season 50-8, while Mercer County cruised past them last Friday night 53-14.
Knox Central brings in a talented backfield, as they have two running back with over 500 yards, including sophomore Donavan Arthur who has rushed for 1,187 yards and 12 touchdowns. Fellow sophomore Jermel Carton has rushed for 589 yards and seven touchdowns.
“We will do the same thing we have done all season. We will try to align properly, get our reads, play with great fundamentals and effort. We have to do that to have a shot,” said Mercer County Head Coach David Buchanan on how his team will plan to stop the strong rushing attack from Knox Central.
The Titans will also have to keep an eye on Knox Central dual-threat quarterback Jaxon Stewart, who has 433 rushing yards, 784 passing yards and 14 total touchdowns.
“We have to keep the ball in front of us on defense,” said Buchanan. “If we let him get past a couple of guys and we are playing with 8 or 9, we are in trouble.”
Although Buchanan knows his team will have a tough task, he believes his team has what it takes to advance to the third round for only the third time in school history.
“We have to do the same things we did at 0-5 and now winning six in a row. We’ve got to get better everyday and play one snap at a time as hard and as well as we can,” said Buchanan. “We just need to keep doing what we are doing. Our kids have worked hard and I trust them that they will do that.”