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Mustangs revisit Reform, look for different result

Merriam-Webster’s definition of “reform” is “to make better or improve by removal of faults,” and that’s exactly what the Isabella Mustangs hope to do on their second trip this season to Reform.

There is evidence Isabella will turn in a better performance than Round 1’s 33-7 loss to Class 2A No. 4 Pickens County High, whose only blemish this season was a 6-point setback in Week 1 to Class 4A Greensboro.

“That was kind of a turning point for us where we said, ‘Maybe we’re not as good as we think we are,’” Isabella coach Lanny Jones said. “So, that gave us a reason to work harder.”

The Mustangs (8-3) have won four of five since the loss to the Tornados (10-1) on Oct. 3. The most recent win was in Round 1 of the playoffs at St. Jude, a game that could help Isabella on Friday.

Both St. Jude and Pickens County feature pass-happy offenses with athletic quarterbacks and receivers.

“We haven’t changed anything from last week,” Jones said.

The ‘Stangs were better against Jude’s attack than they were in the loss to Pickens. Isabella generated an effective pass rush and held the Pirates to about 140 passing yards and, most importantly, no big plays of the sort that doomed the Mustangs against PCHS in Week 6.

Pickens completed only six passes in 22 attempts in that contest, but three of the completions went for touchdowns. The visitors fell behind 14-0 after two possessions and 21-0 at halftime and couldn’t recover.

“We had to do something to try to get the momentum back, and it just never swung our way,” Jones said. “We really didn’t play that bad.”

Isabella will have to run the football effectively to keep Pickens County’s offense off the field, thereby limiting its opportunities for big plays. The Mustangs rushed for 127 yards on 35 carries in their first try.