October 2, 2009 7:46:00 AM
Each step is a learning process for the Columbus High School football team.
Last week, the Falcons experienced an especially painful lesson in a 10-6 home loss to Tupelo in their Class 6A, Region 1, District 2 season opener.
Columbus coach Bubba Davis said the loss hurt his players so much because he felt they went into the game thinking they were good enough to win and that they should win.
Things didn''t turn out that way.
Critical mistakes and missed opportunities again plagued the Falcons (1-4, 0-1 district) as the dropped their fourth consecutive game.
Columbus will try to rebound at 7 tonight when it travels to South Haven (4-1, 1-0).
Davis said his players reacted so strongly after the game last week because they had never experienced preparing for a game they thought they were going to win only to be disappointed with the outcome. He hopes the Falcons will be able to learn that lesson and build on another strong week of practice.
"It is a good thing because we''re finally getting to the point that we realize we are capable and that we can win," Davis said. "We have to increase our intensity, get excited, and eliminate our mistakes, which is something we have done all year. Then we have to go out and continue to play as hard as we have and with the new attitude that we can win this ballgame, and we are good enough to win this ballgame."
Southaven figures to present a tougher challenge. The Chargers came to Columbus last year and earned a 28-14 victory. This season, they have victories against Independence (37-3), Center Hill (35-14), Hernando (41-7), and Douglass, out of Memphis, (35-0). Last week, they lost to Olive Branch 26-15.
Sophomore running back Chris Rice leads Southaven with 82 yards rushing per game. Junior quarterback Dominique Harris is averaging 185 yards passing a game.
Senior linebacker Grant Woods is averaging eight tackles a game for a defense that has allowed only 50 points.
Davis knows his team will be tested tonight, and he is anxious to see how his kids respond from another lesson. He said the Falcons continue to improve every week and that they are closing in on doing something special.
Davis realizes those comments could get old to fans and to players, but he doesn''t feel he will "lose" any of his players because he believes they continue to work hard and are invested in the program.
"I have done this a long time had some great teams and teams that won state championships. I am not sure some of them played as hard as these kids have played in five weeks," Davis said. "We''re sitting here 1-4, but when the horn went off last Friday our kids were playing as hard as they could. That says a lot about them. As coaches, we''re seeing them get better. We know they''re close. I think they''re realizing they''re close to be able to accomplish what they want to do. We''re just thinking this Friday night might be the night we bust out and be what we''re really capable of being.
"You do run the risk of losing them, and if you lose them it is hard to get them back. We think we''re taking the baby steps every week and have been doing it now for five weeks. We feel our kids realize it. Once they realize it, it will be easier for them to maybe realize that, ''Hey, we''re this close and our execution is so poor that if we just do what we''re supposed to do all of this is going to change."
Adam Minichino is the Sports Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.