Friday, February 24, 2017  
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Sports Editor

  If you ask first-year Kirk coach Katlan French about being nervous about his first game as a head coach, the 24-year old would quickly tell you – ‘absolutely not.’  
  A son of a coach, French has seen seasons open for better than 20 years. The biggest difference will be that he will be making the decisions this time around.
  “I’m fine,” French said. “It seems like I have been doing this a long time. The only difference is the preparation and putting a game plan together. It is an easy transition for me, because I have been around it all my life.”
  French and the Raiders face Class A foe West Memphis, Ark., at Raider Field. The biggest emotion that the coach and his players are dealing with is being anxious.
  “I think all of us (coaches and players) are anxious to get out there and see what we have,” French said. “The players are focused and excited to get on the field. I have no doubt that they are ready to play.”
  Being an opening game, French knows that there will be mistakes. Whoever makes the fewest, has the best chance to win the game.
  “There are going to be mistakes and confusion in a first game,” French said. “We just want our guys to go out and execute the plan to the best of their ability. I feel like our guys will do that.”
  Making adjustments are part of any game. With such a small number, French says the adjustments will have to take place at halftime not during the game.
  “A large number of our players go both ways, so it will be hard to adjust with them on the field,” French said. “We will have to talk best we can during time outs and make major adjustments at halftime.”
Injury update
  Sophomore quarterback Gunner Hudspeth will make his first start under center. He missed the jamboree with a bruised knee.
  Senior Tyler Kirk started in his place and will also see action at quarterback among his many positions. Up front, several new faces will be seeing their first action as a Kirk Raider.
Scouting West Memphis
  The Black Knights come to Grenada with a new coach and some new faces. Chris Norton is now the new field boss.
  “They are somewhat of an unknown with a new coach and some new players,” French said.    “We had a chance to see them on tape in a jamboree.”
  West Memphis picked up a new quarterback this fall in transfer Russ Fitzgerald (6-5, 206, sr.).   He comes to West Memphis from Hughes, Ark. He has a big target at wide receiver in Cortez Whitaker (6-4, 223, soph.).  David Lewis (5-7, 200, sr.) returns at running back for the Black Knights.
  Kickoff is slated for 7:30 p.m. The game will be broadcast live on WQXB-B100. John Cravens and Craig Morgan will describe the action.

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