After suffering its first loss of the season to Hardee by a score of 39-0 last week, the Avon Park football team faces a tough road game at Lake Highland Prep (Orlando) tonight.

The Red Devils are 2-1 with solid wins over Frostproof and DeSoto, but last Friday’s dismantling at the hands of the undefeated Wildcats was a wake up call for the Red Devils.

“We came out flat against Hardee and it showed,” said first-year Avon Park coach Jerry Hudnell. “I could see it on the bus ride over there and we just didn’t show up against a good football team. We have a two-hour bus ride to Orlando and I hope we are ready to play when we get there because Lake Highland Prep has a a good team.”

Lake Highland Prep is 1-1 on the season with an opening-week win against Kingdom Prep (Auburndale) and a loss at Trinity Catholic (Ocala) last Friday.

The Highlanders are balanced on offense with the ability to run or throw the ball.

“Lake Highland Prep is a lot like us,” said Hudnell. “They aren’t as talented as in the past, but they have a good program with a bunch of athletes.”

The Highlanders will use a 3-4 alignment on defense and Lake Placid is going to try and establish more of a presence on the ground in tonight’s game.

“We’re looking for an identity on offense,” Hudnell said. “We’ve been throwing it some because we’ve had trouble running the ball. I’ve never coached a team that couldn’t run the ball and we’re going to try and establish a rushing attack against Lake Highland Prep.”

Avon Park will look to use tailback David Martin and quarterback Tyrek Dunlap more often in the Red Devils running game.

“We want to pick up first downs, move the chains and control the clock,” said Hudnell. “If we can establish a running game, it opens up our passing attack.”

Avon Park, which went to the Class 4A state playoffs the last three years, but graduated its entire offensive backfield, will have to play well if the Red Devils hope to leave Orlando with a victory.

“We need to get back on track and play Avon Park football,” Hudnell said. “We want to play fast and physical and be aggressive. We need to play hard for four quarters and see what happens.

Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. at Lake Highland Prep.

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