September 18, 2009 8:30:00 AM
Bobby Berry and Brad Butler had nights they would like to forget last Friday.
The Philadelphia High School football team broke out to a 48-0 halftime lead en route to a 48-16 victory against West Lowndes, while the Lamar School used its passing attack to torch Heritage Academy 49-12.
Both coaches will try to get their programs back on track tonight.
The West Lowndes Panthers (3-1) will play host to Wheeler at 7:30, while the Heritage Academy Patriots travels to Madison Ridgeland Academy (7).
Berry hopes his team is ready to grow and to learn from the mistakes it made last week.
"It was a nightmare," Berry said of the Philadelphia game. "We couldn''t do anything right and we ended up not doing anything. We let them return the opening kickoff and it went downhill from there."
Berry praised the play of Class 3A Philadelphia and said he would be surprised if the Tornadoes didn''t advance to play in the state title game in Jackson.
Still, he said his players caused a lot of their problems with self-inflicted wounds. He didn''t think the Panthers gave the effort they are capable of, but he isn''t dwelling on it.
In fact, he took a low-key approach last week after the loss and didn''t get too made about the defeat. He said the Panthers can''t afford to live in the past if they are going to have a successful season.
"When something happens you have to suck it up and go from there," Berry said. "We seemed not to suck it up. We dropped our heads. I really couldn''t get them up. I hope we can get our heads up. If we get behind we have to learn to fight back. That''s the way life works."
Berry said his team had a "pretty good" week of practice. With its Class 2A, Region 2, District 4 opener against Hamilton on tap in two weeks, Berry know time is running out for the Panthers to put things together.
"We have to be able to fight through adversity," Berry said.
Butler hopes his team can do the same thing.
The first-year Heritage Academy coach knew last week that the Patriots were taking on a high-scoring offense.
But the deadliness of the combination of quarterback Witt Haggard and wide receiver Bo Bidgood was too much to handle.
Haggard and Bidgood teamed for four touchdowns and helped the Raiders build a 35-0 lead in the first half.
"We knew they had a good football team and our guys came out flat," Butler said. "We had a hard time moving the football. When things started to go bad they started to go bad in a hurry. It went brand new on us. It was something we did that we had not done."
Butler said the Patriots (3-1) had a good week of practice leading up to the game against the Lamar School but that he had a bad feeling the night of the game. He said he could sense the kids'' intensity just wasn''t there.
That feeling bothered Butler this week because he feels he shouldn''t have to get his players excited to play football.
"I don''t know what it takes to get them fired up," Butler said. "We will have to find it before 7 (tonight)."
Butler said he will change his personality as a coach if it means his players will respond in a better fashion. He said he typically is a laid-back coach, but he is more than willing to take on a different demeanor to spark his players'' intensity.
"It comes to a point where you have to quit talking and be about it," Butler said. "I told them that this is a big crossroads in our season. If we play like we did last week we''re going to get a lot of whippings. We''re about to get into the meat of our schedule, and it is going to be tough. We just can''t show up. It is going to be a battle every week."
Adam Minichino is the Sports Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.
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