Soggy fields might affect Friday night football

Friday, September 1, 2017
Senior Tavi McLean (9) and the Marshall County defense is hoping for a big effort this week when they travel to Tullahoma to take on the Wildcats in the Region 4/4A opener Friday night.
Tribune photo by Anthony S. Puca

The epic Hurricane Harvey, which devastated southeastern Texas finally left that area and has moved towards Tennessee as a tropical depression that is forecasted to drop several inches of rain in the Mid-State that could affect the playing fields and the game plans of all three county high school squads.

At press time there was also the possibility that the games could be moved to Saturday.

The Marshall County Tigers were the only county team to post a win last week as they blasted Shelbyville 51-27 at Preston Hopkins Field in Lewisburg.

“Winning is very tough and fragile, so anytime you can get a win versus a very talented opponent like Shelbyville it no doubt builds confidence with your team,” Marshall County coach Thomas Osteen said.

This week the Tigers make their first road trip of the season as they travel to Tullahoma for the Region 4/4A opener versus an undefeated Wildcat squad that opened the season with back-to-back wins over Shelbyville (37-29) and Coffee County (56-28).

“The first road game and how your team will react to it always make you a little more nervous as a coach, but we have a bunch of upperclassmen who have played a lot of football, so I expect us to handle it like a business trip,” Osteen said.

In the past two seasons Marshall County has picked up a pair of easy wins over the Wildcats with a combined score of 96-7, including a 55-7 win in Lewisburg last year.

“It's a huge game because it’s the first region game,” Osteen said. “All of our goals are dependent on our five region games. We no doubt want to get started on the right foot.”

Osteen does not expect things to be anywhere near that easy this year with an improved Tullahoma squad making a resurgence.

“I expect it to be a raucous atmosphere, it will be Tullahoma's first home game and they will be displaying their new Jumbo Tron for the first time,” Osteen stated. “And more importantly Tullahoma is 2-0 for the first time in a while. They will have a huge crowd and it will be an exciting environment for high school football.”

The Tigers are well-prepared for soggy conditions with a great running game and powerful linemen on both sides of the ball.

“We must be able to run the ball even when the opponent knows we are going to,” Osteen said. “No doubt getting the run game going will be big for us this Friday, even more so if the conditions get sloppy.”

The Tigers rushed for 279 yards last week after a subpar performance in Week 1 with senior Kamron Liggett gaining 122 yards and scoring four touchdowns versus the Golden Eagles.

“If we are going to have a chance to win big games this year our running game and run defense must be good. It's no secret that our offensive and defensive lines are the most talented and deepest position groups that we have on the team,” Osteen said.

Tiger quarterback Bryce Wallace put up 219 yards of total offense versus Shelbyville last and the junior signal caller will lead the offense this week at Tullahoma.
Tribune photo by Anthony S. Puca

The Tigers will not be afraid to toss the ball either as Bryce Wallace turned in a nice effort behind center last week, throwing for 134 yards and a touchdown and running for 85 yards and a score.

“Bryce did a great job managing our offense last week, he kept us on schedule and made good decisions all night,” Osteen stated.

Cornersville had a ton of confidence last week as traveled to Eagleville with a 2-0 record to start the season, but the Eagles knocked them down a notch when they handed the Bulldogs a 31-6 loss.

It has been a physical week of practice so far, a lot of tough love has been shown this week,” Cornersville coach Gerard Randolph said. “The guys were embarrassed at the way we performed last Friday night against Eagleville.”

“Eagleville brought a physical approach to the game and we didn't respond well. That is not Cornersville football. We like to play physical and that will continue to be our mentality from week to week.”

This week the Bulldogs hit the road again as they embark to Moore County for the Region 5/1A opener versus the Raiders, who opened the season with back-to-back road wins over Cascade (20-7) and Community (50-32).

The Cornersville offensive linemen are hoping for a bounce back game this week when they travel to Moore County for the Region 4/1A opener.
Photo by George “Pap” Warren”

“It does not get any easier this week against Moore County, this is a very big region game for our football team,” Randolph said. “They also will be a big physical team that likes to run the football. If we want to be successful we will have to win in the trenches on both sides of the ball.”

The Bulldogs are 3-13 versus Moore County since 2001 with their only wins coming at home during that time span in 2016, 2010 and 2002.

“Moore County is always a very tough place to play at with their crowd and in order to keep their crowd out of it, we have to dominate early and often,” Randolph said. “We can't let their crowd get into the game by having turnovers and giving up big plays.”

A soggy field is not something that intimidates the Bulldogs, who rely on a tough running game that had a big game in Week 1 versus Community before regressing at Eagleville.

“As far as wet conditions, we experienced this last year with our first two games with very sloppy conditions and I think we learned some things you can do and things you cannot do in these adverse conditions,” Randolph said. “But at the end of the day we have to continue to focus on our keys to the game whether wet or dry, and that is to protect the football and tackle well on defense.”

Cornersville junior tight end Peyton Finch could be a key component to a Bulldog victory this week in Lynchburg.
Photo by George “Pap” Warren”

The Bulldogs have enough upperclassmen leadership to pull off a big win at Lynchburg and Randolph expects his team to bounce back in a big way.

“We are looking forward to the challenge and we welcome it,” Randolph said. “The guys know the importance of this game. They know in order to reach our goals that we have set, we have to go play well and get a big region win on Friday night.”

The Forrest Rocket have not started a season at 0-2 since 2005 and certainly don’t want to fall to 0-3 when they travel to undefeated Eagleville this week for the Region 5/2A opener.

“It’s a big region game and the winner will take a huge step forward towards the playoffs,” Forrest coach Brent Johns said. “After going back and viewing the film (Fayetteville) we beat ourselves. In the second half, penalties kept putting us in a hole and giving them more opportunities with the ball.”

The Eagles also have a good running game, but even a better passing attack with quarterback Ethan Cobb and a pair of good receivers in Graham Hatcher and Avery Sparks.

“From the two games we've seen them play, Eagleville is the most complete team we've faced,” Johns said. “The quarterback (Cobb) is a very gifted player.”

Forrest cornerback and kick returner Cole Villazon is an integral part of the Forrest squad that hopes to bounce back from a 0-2 start with a win this week at Eagleville.
Tribune photo by Anthony S. Puca

The Rockets have to bounce back from a poor performance on defense last week that gave up 398 yards of total offense to the Tigers.

“We have to force them into short throws and not let them get behind us in the secondary and a better rush from the front would help also,” Johns said.

Forrest did do well versus Fayetteville on the offensive side of the ball as they also picked up 398 yards of offense, but after a pair of first half scores, the Rockets shot themselves in the foot with mistakes and untimely penalties in the second half, something Johns wants corrected.

“The offense last week had 400 yards and 100 yards in penalties,” Johns stated. “If we correct the costly penalties, that 500 yards of offense is enough to beat anybody.”

Forrest punter and running back Wesley McCoy could be a big factor this week in soggy conditions at Eagleville.
Tribune photo by Anthony S. Puca

Johns and the Rockets have gone back to basics this week at practice and the coach is confident his ball club will bounce back and play the Forrest brand of football that has produced back-to-back region championships.

“We have to be more concerned with what Forrest is doing than what the opponent is doing,” Johns said. “We have to be more disciplined ourselves as a team.”