Non-region games highlight Week 2 gridiron action
This should be an exciting Friday night under the stadium lights for the three Marshall County football squads with the Marshall County Tigers and Forrest Rockets looking to bounce back from home losses, while the Cornersville Bulldogs are hoping to move to 2-0 for the first time since 2007.
The Bulldogs are loaded with upperclassmen talent and it was on a bright display last week when they pounded the Community Vikings 55-14 at Frog Bottom.
“The guys were very excited about the win on Friday Night against Community,” Cornersville coach Gerard Randolph said. “A bunch of guys stepped up and did some really good things on the field that night.”
“We told them to enjoy that night, but be ready to go to back to work and get ready for a good Eagleville football team.”
Offensive coordinator Aaron Pitts rolled out a balanced attacked versus Community as the Bulldogs put up 408 yards of total offense with 304 coming in the ground game and 104 in a solid aerial attack.
“Coach Pitts and the offensive staff have done a really good job of coming up with a good offensive attack during our scrimmages and our first game,” Randolph said. “This in turn helps us get the ball into more playmakers hands also. We want to make teams really have to study and prepare to stop a more multiple offensive attack.”
Junior running backs Eli Woodard and Cameron Whittaker combined for 224 yards and three touchdowns, while rejuvenated senior Kolbe McMahon toted the rock for 74 yards and made two trips to the end zone.
The Bulldog defense was also very solid, but will have to back that great performance up this week when Cornersville travels to 2A Eagleville, who pitched a 40-0 shutout over Huntland in Week 1.
“This is definitely a big game that we want to win-----We want to win all of them, but we are taking it one game at a time,” Randolph said. “Being able to go on the road and beat a quality opponent like Eagleville would be a huge momentum gain for our football team.”
“It is also a game before we start region play, so it would be huge to get this win.”
Eagleville is a hungry ballclub and is looking for redemption from last season when they missed the playoffs for the first time since 2008 after reaching the state quarterfinals three straight years (2011-13).
“We have watched a ton of film on Eagleville,” Randolph said. “They have a really good quarterback and receiving core. Our objective is to get pressure on him and also mix our coverage's up to try and confuse him.”
Junior standout quarterback Ethan Cobb rushed for over 100 yards and two TDs versus Huntland, making him a duel threat that is tough to contain.
“The main thing is not to give him a ton of time to sit back there and pick us apart, our defense is going to have to be the key this week,” Randolph stated. “We have to play our assignments and do a really good job of getting off the field on third down.”
In the last two seasons, Cobb and senior wide receiver Graham Hatcher have combined for more than 100 catches and over 1,400 yards.
Head coach Floyd Walker’s squad returns 10 starters on offense in Cobb, Josh Stout (TB), Josh Wallman (FB), Joey Johnson (TE), Logan Moore (C), Cody Lane (LG), Isaac Gleaves (RG), Tyler Reid (RT), Hatcher, and Avery Sparks (WR).
On defense the Eagles have six returning starters in Mari Stoudemire (LB), Aaron Leathers (T), Chavalier Sutton (NT), Wallman (LB), Chase Bright (S), and Sparks (CB).
“We have continued with our process that we believe in and our practice to game preparation has been great this week,” Randolph said. “The guys understand the approach to a football game day now and we've had a solid week of practice so far.”
“They know how important it is to stay focused until game time and they are looking forward to getting back on the field this Friday night.”
For the Forrest Rockets, there is much to improve on as they started fast before wilting in a 48-19 loss to BGA in Week 1 at home.
“They've responded well,” Forrest coach Brent Johns said. “The team leaders have kept the attitude positive and have constantly reminded the team to trust our process.”
Costly turnovers, missed opportunities, and the inability to crank up any kind of passing game to back up a good running attacked hurt the Rockets in the opener.
“We just continue work on ball security drills and stress ball security in practice like always,” Johns said. “Like always, we’ve fixed some mistakes by watching film of Friday night’s game. Our process really doesn’t change, win or lose.”
The Rockets ran for 252 yards in the contest with Nick McClendon leading the charge, gaining 147 yards on 20 carries for a very solid 7.4 yards per carry.
Forrest had 9 yards passing.
“We have to establish the run first and use our play action passing game,” Johns said.
The Rockets host a 1A Fayetteville team this week and they better be ready as the Tigers pulled off a huge 27-26 win at 4A Nolensville last week.
“Their win versus Nolensville last week really got our attention,” Johns stated.
The Tigers are a big play team, highlighted last week with the play of standout running back Brandon Moore, who ran 67 yards for a touchdown and hauled in a Lexi Marsh pass for a 52-yard score.
Fayetteville also two more big plays on offense as Jacious Clark took off for a 52-yard touchdown run and Zorion Pullen opened the scoring for the Tigers with a 38-yard TD run.
The Tigers forced four Nolensville turnovers, but gave the ball away three times in the contest and allowed two touchdown passes and an 85-yard kickoff return.
“We feel like if we can stop Moore from breaking long runs then we will be ok,” Johns said. “The game plan again is to stop the run first.”
Next week Forrest opens up Region 5-A play at Eagleville.
“We haven’t even thought about Eagleville yet,” Johns said. “We are taking it one week at a time and this week we have a huge opponent in Fayetteville City.”
The Marshall County Tigers lost last week, but they were in the game until the end versus 6A Cane Ridge, who had its best season in school history last year when they went 12-1 and lost in the state 5A quarterfinals to eventual runner-up Independence.
“I think we have responded well,” Marshall County coach Thomas Osteen said. “Our motto for the year is ‘CLIMB’. We parlay that each week into seeing how much better we can get each week as a team in hopes of being as prepared as possible for our region games.”
Marshall County rode its defense versus the Ravens, something Osteen and his coaching staff was very proud of.
“Defensively we went toe-to-toe with a high powered offense and gave ourselves a chance to win the game,” Osteen stated. “I was very pleased that we fought as a team the whole game when it would have been very easy to give in.”
Now the offense needs some catching up to do as the unit only accumulated 156 yards of total offense, rushing for 104 and passing for 52 yards.
“Offensively we knew yards would be at a premium last week against one of the state most talented and experienced defenses,” Osteen said. “However, I was most disappointed with our mental mistakes and silly penalties that keep us from scoring three times when we had the ball in the red zone.”
That is way below last season’s average of 214 yards per game in the air and 179 in the ground attack.
“Our goal this week is to stay on schedule with our offense,” Osteen said. “Cut out the negative plays and penalties and ‘keep the ball in front of us’.”
The Tigers remain at Preston Hopkins Field this week when they entertain Shelbyville, who suffered a devastating 37-29 loss to a Tullahoma team that was riding a 21-game losing streak.
“It's a big game because it’s the next game and it's against a very good opponent,” Osteen said. “We need to build confidence for our region games to come.”
The two teams have not met since 2014 when the Tigers beat the Golden Eagles to break a three-game losing streak over the Bedford County squad.
Shelbyville sports a powerful offense, led by junior quarterback Grayson Trammell, who completed 29-of-58 passes for 462 yards with four TDs.
Avery Brown caught six passes for 212 yards and two touchdowns, while Jerimiah Wyatt hauled in seven passes for 210 yards and a score.
Trammell was also picked off twice that resulted in a 36-yard and 94-yard interception returns for touchdowns by Tullahoma.
“Versus Shelbyville, we must be the more physical team in all three phases of the game,” Osteen stated. “Offensively we must take care of the ball and sustain drives and defensively we must contain Shelbyville’s dynamic passing attack that is one of the best in the state.”
Marshall County opens up Region 4/4A play next week at Tullahoma.