In Oct. 1 IssueBy Derek AaronTimes Journal Sports Editor
The Russell County Lakers (2-3, 0-1 in district play) struggled to get any momentum going this past Friday night as they were defeated 45-20 by 4-1 Franklin-Simpson in their district opener at Finley Field.
“We kept having continually mental busts,” said Laker head coach Bill Sharp following the game. “I'm not going to fault our effort. I think we play hard, we just don't play smart.”
Sharp cited numerous times when tailbacks went the wrong way or blocked the wrong person as examples.
“Those are just the obvious things because you can see them because they're on the edge,” he said. “We had a quarterback making some bad decisions and I'm sure we had some line busts.”
Sharp blamed poor execution for much of his team's problems.
“When we execute, the scheme is good and we move the football, we score points,” he said. “We've got to get over being young and just figure out how to compete and how to be tough.”
The visiting Wildcats struck first and scored on a 45-yard run by Darius Wickware but the Lakers responded, driving the ball down the field and scoring on a 5-yard run by freshman tailback Nick Britt.
Two more quick Wildcat scores sealed the Lakers fate early when senior Patrick Flippin returned a Laker kickoff 90 yards for a score and Wildcat Max Bennett scored on a 60-yard run. By the end of the first quarter the Lakers found themselves in a 21-6 hole.
Wildcat kicker Cullen McElroy connected on a 26-yard field goal to make the score 24-6 in the second quarter. The Lakers tried to rally and after another lengthy drive, scored on a one-yard run by junior quarterback Martin Cross just before halftime.
Russell County went into the intermission behind 31-14.
In the second half, the Wildcat's Wickware caught a 23-yard touchdown pass from Hayden Williams and Darius Wickware scored on a 15-yard run to cap off Franklin-Simpson's scoring.
A bright spot for Russell County came in the fourth quarter when Laker Jamison Meece scooped up a Wildcat fumble and returned it 75 yards for a score, but it was too little too late for Russell County and the Wildcats went on to spoil the district opener 45-20 on the Laker's home field.
“I'm going to evaluate the job I did, the jobs our coaches did and the job our players did because if you keep doing what you're doing you'll keep getting what you're getting,” Sharp said. “I don't like 45-20, no matter who we are playing. I don't care if we're playing Trinity, I expect to compete and be in the ballgame.”
Sharp said there were several instances where his team could have capitalized on opportunities and didn't and that showed in the end.
The Lakers also played without junior fullback Nathan Irvin who suffered a non-football injury over the weekend. Russell County did get back junior wideout Taylor Hutchison who had missed the previous two games with a left shoulder injury.
Russell County defensive end Codey Bell and tailback Jeron Hammond also left the game late with injuries. Bell injured his shoulder on a second half play and Hammond injured his foot during a long run in the second half.
Russell County travels to Logan County High School this Friday night for their first district road game of the season, with kickoff slated for 7 p.m.
“They're throwing it a bunch,” Sharp said of his next opponent. “They're throwing it 40-45 times a game and they got some good skill kids and a quarterback with a nice arm.”
“For us, everything is a dogfight, there are no easy ones,” he said. “There are no gimmes ... we've got to get better.”