By Ray Hamill — The South Fork Cubs fell hard to Branson earlier in the season, but a young team has grown substantially since then, and head coach Karl Terrell is confident they’ll be up for the challenge when they play again this weekend.
The Cubs are seeded No. 3 in the NCS eight-person football bracket and will welcome the No. 2 Bulls to Miranda for a Saturday night showdown with a place in this year’s NCS championship game on the line.
The game was switched to Miranda earlier this week after the higher-seeded Bulls were unable to meet the hosting criteria.
In addition to the home-field advantage, the Cubs may have another ace up their sleeve.
Senior running back Jayden Paine recently joined the team after the soccer season ended and has had an immediate impact, rushing for 80 yards and a TD a week ago in the Cubs’ postseason opener, a 34-0 win over Laytonville.
Paine gives Terrell another offensive threat, along with standout junior Alex Harding, something he’s hoping to use to full advantage this weekend.
“He’s explosive too,” Terrell said of Paine. “Hopefully I can utilize him in the right manner and make them think about both him and Alex.”
Harding has been nothing short of outstanding all season, helping a young Cubs team mature, a team that has now won five straight after opening the season 2-2.
And Terrell is hoping that improvement is evident on Saturday, especially on defense.
“The (Bulls are) a good team, but we’re playing better ball now,” the coach said. “I think we kind of match up a little better in the defensive secondary, and that was really our downfall the last time.”
The Bulls are 7-1 on the season and have won seven straight games.
However, they have not played in three weeks after receiving an opening-round bye.
Several Cubs players have been battling sickness this week, which has not helped with preparations.
Game time is set for 7 p.m.