Both teams enter the game with one loss and another loss tacked on could send the loser on the road in the first round of the playoffs.
Caldwell County (2-2, 0-1) was off last week after losing to Lone Oak 7-0 the week prior in Paducah.
Trigg County (3-2, 1-1) lost 14-7 at Fort Campbell last week in a hard-fought game against the top-ranked team in Class 2A.
“There might be a little of a letdown this week, but I don’t think our kids will let that happen because it is a rivalry game,” Wildcat head coach Curtis Higgins said. “No one wanted to lose that game last week, but we may have gained some confidence from it.”
For Higgins, a familiar face will be calling the plays from across the field Friday.
Pat Gates, who coached the Tigers for 17 seasons from 1986-2002, has returned to the Tiger sideline after a two-year absence. Gates coached the Tigers to the 1998 2A state title, but Caldwell has only made the playoffs twice since. He took over for Anthony Hatchell, who was 8-12 in two seasons and left in June to take the Mayfield High principal’s job. Hatchell never beat Trigg County in his two years in Princeton.
Caldwell County returned a wealth of experience but have been bothered by inconsistent play, brought on by a rash of injuries.
The most notable injury has been to leading rusher Allen Wadlington, who rushed for 938 yards and 13 touchdowns last year. Wadlington has rushed for 213 yards in three games, but suffered a knee injury in Caldwell’s win over Crittenden County Aug. 26.
In Wadlington’s absence, Rodney Bell has stepped in and rushed for 366 yards in three games, but wasn’t eligible for Caldwell’s 7-0 loss at Lone Oak two weeks ago.
Higgins said Caldwell’s backfield reminds him of a couple of Tigers that have given the Wildcats fits since he first arrived here in 1999.
“Wadlington when he is healthy reminds me of (Carl) Copeland because he is more of a straight-up kind of runner. Bell is more like (Kent) Kirby, just not as strong. But he is quick and has those quick moves,” he said.
Hopefully for the Wildcats, the modern day Tigers won’t repeat the heroics of Kirby, who rushed for 222 yards against the Wildcats in 2000, and Copeland, who rushed for 140 yards in 2002, which was the last time Caldwell beat Trigg County.
Junior Cameron Williams has completed just 34-percent of his passes for 269 yards. He has thrown two touchdowns and four interceptions.
“Obviously, we want to make Caldwell one-dimensional and force them throw the football,” Higgins said.
The Tigers will have some bulk up front, averaging nearly 260 pounds from tackle to tackle.
Junior Matt Wilson (5-9, 290), senior John Lundstrom (6-0, 220), junior Tyler Williams (6-2, 260), senior Jeremy Dalton (6-2, 240), and junior Bradley Woford (6-1, 290) gives Gates some beef to work with and Edwards some time in the pocket.
Adam Bretz (6-2, 170, Sr.) and Ben Hudson (5-11, 160, Jr.) give Edwards good targets to throw to, with Bretz the leading receiver with six catches for 135 yards.
On the flip side, Higgins has been impressed with the improvement of Trigg County’s running game behind a rebuilt offensive line, but is hoping the passing game shows signs of life after failing to top 100 yards the past two weeks.
“We should have done better against Reidland, but we simplified the passing game last week at Fort Campbell to get maximum protection. We just missed some out routes we shouldn’t have,” Higgins said.
Kickoff Friday is set for 7:30 p.m. at Perdue Field.
TWO-MINUTE DRILL – Caldwell County leads the all-time series 34-16-1, but Trigg County has won five of the last six and seven of the last 11 games…Curtis Higgins has never lost to Caldwell County at Perdue Field in three career games. Caldwell’s last win over Trigg County at Perdue Field came in 1998…Robert Sholar leads the Wildcats in both sacks (3) and fumble recoveries (3)…Trigg County moved up to #5 in this week’s Bluegrasspreps.com Class 2A poll. Fort Campbell remains #1…Friday is Trigg County’s last home game for nearly a month, with the Wildcats set to close the regular season at home Oct. 23 and 30.