Cumberland kicks off season today vs. Cincinnati Christian

Andy Reed • The Lebanon Democrat

One month and two days after Joseph Rushin throws this pass during Cumberland's first day of practice, the quarterback and his Phoenix teammates will finally play a game.

It's been a long month since Cumberland's players assembled at Nokes-Lasater Field and began practicing for the 2019 season.

While NFL teams have played four preseason games and most high schools played their third games of the season Friday night, the Phoenix are sick of looking at each other.

"It has been crazy long," second-year Cumberland coach Tim Mathis said of the preseason. "We are definitely ready to hit somebody else in a different-colored jersey."

Cincinnati Christian will bring its blue-and-white outfits to Nokes-Lasater Field for today's 1:30 p.m. kickoff. The Eagles, who went 0-11 last season, including a closer-than-the final 23-10 setback to CU in Cincinnati, opened their season last week with a 20-17 win over Warner.

"They're a scrappy team that has a lot of guys coming back from last year," Mathis said of the Eagles. "they didn't have a very good year last year, but they played us tough.

"They were crazy young last year, but they're all a year older and they're already 1-0. They have an advantage of playing a game and we haven't. They got some things they were able to work on and improve on. We have to be all-cylinders clicking to begin with."

Derrick Taylor completed 19 of 39 passes for 271 yards and two touchdowns, both to Maceo Clinton, last week. Clinton caught four balls for 112 yards. Adam Sanders rushed for 100 yards on 22 carries.

"They're going to spread you out and run, and they're going to throw as well," Mathis said. "They're a fairly big team. They don't have a lot of quickness."

One notable exception to the quickness is wideout Christian Williams, who caught three passes for 32 yards last week, but seven for 66 and a touchdown against Cumberland last year.

"He hurt us last year," Mathis said of Williams.

Cincinnati Christian will run an even front, either a 4-3 or 4-2-5, on defense.

"They got some big guys up front doing the same things they did last year," Mathis said.

Though both schools are members of the Mid-South Conference, Cincinnati Christian was moved from Cumberland's Bluegrass Division to the Appalachian Division (and replaced by Thomas More from just across the Ohio River in Crestview Hills, Ky.), making this a non-division game. But it is a game, it will count and Mathis couldn't be happier about that.

"I love it the first game being here and hope to get the stadium packed out," Mathis said.

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