BEDFORD @ SALINE
LAST YEAR: Saline 31 Bedford 7
STREAK:Saline has won 4 straight games in the rivalry
SERIES: Saline leads the series 12-7. In that time, Saline was won five straight and four straight. Bedford also won four straight.
BEDFORD LAST WEEK: The Mules rushed the football. A lot. 460 yards against Pinckney for Bedford’s first win. Christian Brown rushed 31 times for 234 yards and three touchdowns. QB Austin Malabanan rushed 13 times for 129 times and two touchdowns. Cade Carnicom also rushed for a touchdown.
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In the Joe Palka era, Bedford has undoubtedly been Saline’s biggest conference rival. After all, Bedford is the only SEC team to deny the Hornets a conference championship in that time. And they’re the only SEC team with a playoff victory against Saline in this decade.
So the Hornets are fired up for a big test.
“We’re expecting a typical Saline-Bedford rivalry game,” Palka said.
The Hornets are expecting the typical Kicking Mule’s running game. When the Mules have the ball, don’t expect the play to often leave the center of the field. The Mules love to hide the football. And Palka said they’re even better at it this year.
“They’ve got a returning quarterback (Austin Malabanan) and junior running back (Christian Brown) who was all league last year. So they’re familiar with the typical run-the-football, physical Bedford football,” Palka said.
The Hornet defense has faced three teams with strong running games so far. Palka said Bedford will be a challenge.
“We’ve faced power running games the last two weeks. But Bedford is a bit more deceptive. We have to be disciplined and not give up the big play. They don’t throw much, but when they do, it’s usually for a home run,” Palka said.
Since Bedford’s offense will take a lot of time off the clock, Saline’s offense will need to be efficient. Andrew Arbaugh is expected to return after missing two games.
“Our running game got going last week. We’d like a bit more balance this week,” Palka said.
If Arbaugh is rusty or not yet 100 percent, Palka has confidence in his young quarterbacks, sophomore Anthony Ferrari and freshman Larry Robinson. But, says Palka, the Hornets want to ride their senior.
"We have three quarterbacks with experience - and that's a good thing. But I don't want to have a quarterback rotation. Arbaugh is our guy," Palka said.