August 21, 2009 9:21:00 AM
Game: Oak Hill Academy at Heritage Academy
Time: 7 p.m. today
Records: First game of season for both teams. Oak Hill Academy went 1-9 and Heritage Academy was 4-7 last season.
Coaches: Oak Hill Academy —Leroy Gregg; Heritage Academy — Brad Butler
Last Meeting: Heritage Academy won 28-14 at Oak Hill Academy last season.
Key performers this week: Gregg believes games are decided in the trenches, and he wants to see the Raiders control the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball.
“The offensive line as well as the defensive line has performed well,” Gregg said. “If you can’t win the line of scrimmage in football, your chances of winning are pretty slim.”
What went right last week: Oak Hill tuned up for the season last week by beating Carroll Academy and Manchester Academy in a jamboree.
“Our ball control offense was good,” Gregg said. “Our running game and our passing game were at least adequate. Our ball security was good. If we can take time off the clock with our offense, that will help our defense a lot.”
What team needs to address: Gregg has concerns about his team’s tackling and how it matches up against Heritage Academy.
“We are not a very good tackling team and we work on that daily,” Gregg said. “I’m a little concerned abbot their speed. Their quarterback is a good player. They’re going to be big up front. They’re going to have a little more team speed than we’re going to have. That doesn’t really sound too good for Oak Hill when you start listing all of those factors.”
Keys to success: Gregg said tackling will be crucial.
Injury Report/Faces in new places: Gregg expects to “have all hands on deck “ tonight.
Oak Hill’s Will Lummus will line up at tight end. He started at tackle last season.
Key performers this week: Butler was pleased with the effort of running back Tyler Marchak, who saw his first extended varsity minutes last week in the jamboree against Bessemer Academy and Tuscaloosa Academy at Pickens Academy. He said the Patriots used so many people that it was truly a team effort. “We scripted 10 plays that we wanted to run to see on film and I was pleased with the way we executed,” Butler said. “I was a little disappointed with how we protected early in the first game, but we didn’t throw it a lot. We completed a slant pass to Will West, and he made another nice catch that was negated by a holding call.”
What went right last week: Butler was pleased with the efforts of Marchak, John Laws Ferguson, Hunter Brown, and Will Swedenburg on offense. He said that unit showed it could move the fall. He said the Patriots will try to improve their consistency tonight.
What team needs to address: Given the heat of the past few weeks, Butler said it never hurts to be in even better condition, which is something the Patriots tried to address this week. He believes the nerves won’t be as much a factor tonight against Oak Hill Academy, which should help his players be a little fresher late in the game.
Keys to success: Running the football will be for Heritage Academy. Butler said he wants to use the experience and size up front to control the line of scrimmage and win the battle of time of possession. “Oak Hill is a good football team,” Butler said. “We’re not going to make a lot of changes in what we’re trying to do. We feel like if we can run the football we will give ourselves a chance.” Butler also will look to his backup players, especially on defense, to play as many series as possible, to help starters who play both ways get a breather so they will be fresh late in the game.
Injury Report/Faces in new places: Butler said the Patriots may not be 100 percent healthy, but he said every player they have will be ready to go tonight.
— Henry Matuszak / Adam Minichino
Game: West Lowndes at West Oktibbeha
Time: 7:30 p.m. today
Records: Season opener for both teams. Last year, West Lowndes was 7-4 and West Oktibbeha was 1-9.
Coaches: West Lowndes — Bobby Berry; West Oktibbeha — Adam Lowrey
Last meeting: West Lowndes beat West Oktibbeha 41-7 last season.
Key performers this week: Berry said senior quarterback Courtney Lucious, senior wide receiver Andre Farmer, senior linebacker Brandon Hill and senior Eddie Tucker will play important roles in helping the Panthers start the season on a strong note. He said practice went pretty well this week until bad weather Thursday jeopardized his team’s final preparations. “I really don’t know what we’re going to have until we line up against an opponent,” Berry said. “I have heard (West Oktibbeha) has a pretty talented group of kids. It’s just that they may not that have many.”
What went right last week: Berry was pleased his team showed a little better effort in its second quarter of scrimmage against Ruleville. He said he didn’t feel the Panthers played to their potential in their first quarter of scrimmage against Kemper County, a big, physical football team. Kemper County beat West Lowndes 8-0.
What team needs to address: Berry said the Panthers improved on their blocking from the jamboree at Noxubee County. He also said he was pleased with the performance of some of his younger running backs. He said Antonio Wilson and junior Kevin Hargrove will see action at running back tonight. He said a key, though, will be to make sure the running backs go north and south instead of east and west. “We also tried to correct our tackling,” Berry said. “I thought we were pretty good at that, but we didn’t do as well as I thought we should,” Berry said.
Keys to success: Berry hopes his offense can be balanced enough to take advantage of what West Oktibbeha wants to give it. He feels the Panthers will be able to do that with anyone under center. He also said junior Kevin Hargrove is a hard runner and a quick learner. He believes Hargrove is going to do well by midseason. He expects junior Quantavious Ellis, who didn’t play much last season due to an injury to be a contributor sometime this season.
Injury Report/Faces in new places: Berry said Hargrove who is 6-foot-1, 190 pounds, likely will play outside linebacker, while Ellis, who ran track for Berry last school year, also may play a little. Ellis is recovering from an injury, and Berry said the team wants to bring him along slowly.
Key performers this week: West Oktibbeha has only one senior (Quadaris Thompson), so Lowrey is looking for leadership from juniors Josh Poe, Jeremy Brown, and Dwight Quinn.
“Those are our bell cows,” Lowrey said. “Those are the guys I know I can depend on to do the right thing. The other boys know it. Those three are like coaches on the field. They make sure everybody else is where they’re supposed to be. They’re always doing what’s right.”
What went right last week: West Oktibbeha hosted a jamboree last week and played Montgomery County and East Oktibbeha a quarter each, playing to 0-0 ties.
“Both teams we played, we played good defense against them,” Lowrey said. “I want to say combined they probably didn’t have five first downs.”
What team needs to address: Lowrey would like to see improvement on offense.
“We were about to score against Montgomery County and we fumbled,” Lowrey said. “Then we threw an interception a little later. With these mistakes, I told (the players), “Guys you’ve got to understand we were stopping ourselves.’ ”
Lowrey also is concerned with how West Oktibbeha matches up with West Lowndes.
“I know they’ve got great athletes,” Lowrey said. “I know they want to spread the field out. I know they get after it on defense. It’s like the situation when you’ve got the little boy fighting the big boy. All the little boy can do is punch and run. That’s all we’re going to try to do. We’re going to hit them when we can and go with it. Whether it’s offensively or defensively, when they’re coming at us we’re just going to try to weather the storm and see if we can hang in there with them.”
Injury report/New faces in ne