No reason to panic for CCHS, Maplesville fans

Published 2:13 pm Saturday, October 4, 2008

Whew. Let’s all breathe a sigh of relief. The Chilton County High Tigers won a game Friday night, and not soon enough.

CCHS started the year, and coach Brian Carter’s tenure, with five consecutive losses. As often is the case with football, though, things weren’t nearly as bad as they seemed.

An adjustment period should have been expected with Carter taking the reins of the program. The new coach is a different personality and runs a much different system than his predecessor, Steve McCord. No Tiger on the 2008 roster had ever played for a different head man at CCHS. The team itself would have faced a transition even without a coaching change. Last year’s version relied on a punishing offensive line, speedy backs and a stout defense. This team needed to begin to shift the focus more to a capable passer in quarterback Taylor Hughes and a talented group of receivers.

But, ironically, the Tigers reverted to a physical, fundamental football team to earn a 38-7 win over Monroe County High on homecoming. Five players rushed at least four times for at least 31 yards. How democratic was the running game? Leading rusher Hughes ran six times for 60 yards, not too far off from fifth leading rusher Dylan Jackson’s four carries for 31 yards. Those two are quarterbacks, and there were three running backs in between them on the leading rusher list.

The success on the ground, the likes of which Chilton had yet to enjoy this season before Friday’s game, took the pressure off Hughes. The junior is capable of winning games with his arm, but the team will be much better when he doesn’t have to.

The difference in the attitude on the sideline was obvious. Guys were having fun; they wanted to play football. That showed up on the scoreboard at the end of the game, but the relief will also help the team in practice the rest of the season.

Next, the Tigers will prepare for Selma. A team that just moved to 1-5 can’t afford to get ahead of itself, but the next four games are winnable. If that happens, CCHS might just have a chance against powerful Bibb County High to close the season.

Going in the other direction, Maplesville on Friday suffered its first regular season loss since October 2005. Linden pushed the Red Devils around in a 34-0 decision, but don’t make too much of this score.

The Patriots are one of the best teams in the state (as evidenced by their No. 5 ranking and unbeaten status), and the game was close in the fourth quarter. If you talk about teams in transition, Maplesville has to top the list with nine defensive and seven offensive starters lost from last year’s team.

Their might be an impulse to overreact, but these Devils will win a lot of games and pose a challenge to anyone unfortunate enough to draw them in the Class 1A playoffs.