"We need to limit the big plays," Leonard said. "With their quarterback, running back and wide receiver, they like to get yards in big chunks. We need to make them earn their way down the field."
Both teams think that the key to the game will not be those elite prospects.
"The kids who are the major players probably won't decide this game," Leonard said. "You know what to expect from them, you know they are going to show up and play. It is the kids who you don't hear about, the kids who don't grab the headlines that will be the difference in this one."
And both coaches think they have a couple kids who can make that difference.
"We need (linebacker) Josh Adams, (wide receiver) Jamal Robinson, our center Bobby Tate, and Ben Ryan (who plays on both the offensive and defensive lines) to come up big," Leonard said.
Smith only singled out Reggie Wilson as a player he thinks could have a big game, but he did say that one group in particular needs to step up its play.
"It will be on our defensive line," he said. "It is a tough assignment to contain their quarterback (Sams), but that will be their task."
The task for each coach is to make sure his team is ready to play Thursday and into the playoffs.
"We are fortunate to be getting the national attention," Smith said. "We could have really be in that spotlight had we beaten Abilene, but right now, it is all about preparing our players to get ready for the playoffs and this game and this focus is part of that."
No. 42 Salmen v No. 75 Franklinton
RIVALS HIGH KEY PLAYERS
SALMEN ATH Daniel Sams (6-2/210, Sr.)
DT Malcolm Pichon (6-3/350, Sr.)
WR Jamal Robinson (6-3/200, Sr.)
FRANKLINTON ATH Terrance Magee (5-9/190, Sr.)
RB Josh Robinson (5-9/198, Sr.)
ATH Reggie Wilson (5-8/185, Sr.)
When: Thursday 10/27, 7:00 p.m.
Last Meeting: 12/04/09, Franklinton won, 60-0
Rankings: Salmen (7-0), No. 2 in Louisiana
Franklinton (7-1), No. 4 in Louisiana
SALMEN WINS IF: It can play patient offensive football and execute well. Salmen, despite having potentially the best player on the field, may be at a talent disadvantage that it hasn't been at this season.
FRANKLINTON WINS IF: It can make a big special teams play. Outside of the blowout in the playoffs, the previous three games were all tight and all turned on a big play. Franklinton can make a major statement with a special teams touchdown to put a dagger in the heart.
PREDICTION: This should be a very good game. The team that makes the first mistake may be the one to lose. The game could turn on a dime and one big mistake could do it. - Franklinton 24, Salmen 16