Oak Hill Academy will try to bounce back in district opener

September 7, 2018 10:25:30 AM

Adam Minichino - [email protected]


WEST POINT -- Chris Craven wants every member of the Oak Hill Academy football team to be confident. 


But Craven knows there is a fine line between a player believing in his abilities and individuals becoming overconfident. 


Craven isn't sure if Oak Hill Academy was overconfident last week as it prepared for its matchup against Tunica Academy. He said the Raiders had a good week of practice prior to facing the Class A Blue Devils. Still, even though he saw plenty of positives when he reviewed the videotape from the 30-14 loss, he acknowledged Oak Hill Academy didn't come out in the first half and play with the aggressiveness or the intensity it needs to have every week. 


"Maybe we weren't where we need to be for some reason," Craven said. "Maybe we thought we were better than we really were. The defense had thrown some shutouts. There is nothing wrong with confidence, but you can't be above that, overconfident." 


Craven said the coaches talked with the players about re-focusing for the next step in the process. It might help that the next game -- a matchup against Winona Christian Academy at 7 p.m. Friday -- kicks off Class AA, District 1 play. That should be plenty to help the Raiders get back to an "underdog" mentality or approach that senior running back / linebacker Ethan Bryan referred to after the game against Tunica Academy. Neither Bryan nor junior lineman Jade Craven were pleased with the Raiders' effort, especially in the first half when Tunica Academy (3-0) built a 22-0 lead. 


Coach Craven said there were one-on-one and heart-to-heart meetings with all of the players this week. He said there was plenty of proof in a scrimmage against Pickens Academy and in wins against Deer Creek School and Newton County Academy that the players could execute and play with focus and intensity. Craven said the key will be re-discovering the attitude that ensures the Raiders play that way Friday and the rest of the season. 


"We're going to have to minimize those mistakes," Craven said. "We can't have little thing after little thing after little thing. Everybody has to be focused and spot on and stick the game scripts, stick to the plan, and just do it." 


Craven said a "lesson in humility" can help a team regain an underdog mentality. He feels that happened last week in the home loss, which is why he is excited to find out how the players respond. He said the coaches stressed this week that everyone is in it together and that the focus has to remain on the Raiders. If it stays there, Craven feels Oak Hill Academy can get back to playing football that will produce results. 


"An underdog mentality is a good place to be, but, at the same time, humility is a better place to be," Craven said. "You should be humble in your successes and be humble when you are humbled. Learn the lessons and let them make you better. 


"It is a matter of commitment and self-discipline. We know how to prepare it. We know what we're supposed to do. You must make yourself do it. I must make myself do it, and we have to come out together and do it. ... They know what is required. They know what it takes to win, and they know what happens when you don't do that, especially now." 


Follow Dispatch sports editor Adam Minichino on Twitter @ctsportseditor

Adam Minichino is the former Sports Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.