Tigers roar through preseason undefeated
To be the best you have to beat the best and Marshall County did just that on Friday night with a convincing 21-7 win over 3A private school powerhouse Christ Presbyterian Academy in the varsity half of the preseason jamboree at Preston Hopkins Field in Lewisburg.
The Tigers were dominant on both sides of the ball against the 2015 3A State runner-up, scoring at will and holding the Lions to a handful of positive yard plays.
The Tigers are 3-0 in the preseason with quality wins over Fairview, Lipscomb and CPA heading into the season opener at Franklin County on Friday night at 7 p.m.
The Tigers pummeled the Rebels 60-23 at Lewisburg to open the season last year.
"We wanted to sharpen our sword as much as possible in the pre-season because we have a very grueling schedule to play," second-year head coach Thomas Osteen said. "We want to play good opponents so they can expose areas that we need to work on more."
"I liked that we started fast on both sides of the ball," Osteen added. "I hate that we got loose with the football in the second quarter and wasted some scoring opportunities."
The Tigers wasted little time putting points on the scoreboard as sophomore starting quarterback Bryce Wallace found a new face on the offensive side of the ball, defensive standout Tavi McLean, for the early touchdown with just three and half minutes ticked off the clock.
"I think you will see (McLean) similar to the role Payton Hood played on offense last year, but he will probably be involved in the passing game a little more," Osteen said. "Some games he could play as many as 30 snaps on offense and some games only about seven or eight, it just depends on the opponent and the week."
The Tigers preseason turnover woes struck again on the next possession when a driving Marshall County offense lost a key opportunity to put more points on the board on a fumble to end the second drive of the game.
Keeping the ball
"We constantly talk about valuing the football," Osteen emphasized. "We just need to continue getting cleaner with the meshes and reads on all the option plays that we run to keep from putting the ball on the ground. We tell our kids that the most important part of every play is that we have the ball at the end of it."
Facing a fourth down on the next offensive possession, the Tigers gave the ball to Cain McWilliams, who dragged several Lion defenders to first down territory which set up the second Marshall County score of the night when Wallace hooked up with 2015 all-state wide receiver Tre Crutcher for the 14-0 lead.
"In my eyes I should have took (the defenders) deeper because I knew the ball was coming to me so I had to get open," Crutcher stated. "From my point of view, I knew (the defensive back) was on my back, and we work on attacking the ball, so that's what I did. I saw the catch and the tuck to give my team a touchdown and an assist to my main man Bryce."
D'Andre Brown followed up his big night against Lipscomb with another long score at 9:19 in the second quarter when the senior running back caught a simple screen pass and weaved in and out of traffic for the 70-yard touchdown to give the Tigers an insurmountable 21-0 edge.
The Tigers did allow the Lions a glimmer of hope by allowing a 50-yard touchdown run and a subsequent Wallace interception by Bryce McCallack, but the defense held strong and Marshall County headed into week one of the regular season with another quality preseason win.
"We've worked our hardest this summer to bounce back from a loss in the semifinals," Crutcher said. "We've bonded as a team and sweated and pushed each other to the limit in the weight room and competition. So with us having the mindset of winning a championship and starting our season off with a win over a powerhouse team like CPA, it just boosts our level of excellence much higher. We have to maintain that goal and continue to get better as a team."
The future looks to burn just as bright for the Tigers as the junior varsity edged the CPA junior varsity 12-7 with back-up quarterback Malik Thomison scoring on a quarterback keeper and throwing a touchdown pass to freshman wide receiver Devon Wilson.