Tigers must recover quickly from loss

Published 11:09 am Wednesday, September 4, 2013

The downside to opening a season with an intense, emotional and dramatic game against a local rival is having to put the game out of mind for a region game the very next week.

For Chilton County High School, that task is made especially difficult considering the Tigers let a 21-0 lead slip away in a 34-28 loss at Jemison last week.

Now, CCHS must prepare for a visit from Homewood, the Class 5A, Region 4 champion from a year ago and expected front-runner again this year.

Chilton coach Donnie Hand said, judging by Monday’s practice, the players seemed to have bounced back.

“I think the kids understand that you can’t quit after the first game,” Hand said. “From the fall jamboree to the first game, we felt like we improved a lot. We just still haven’t improved enough.”

With a less experienced squad than the one that went 10-2 in 2012, this year’s Tigers have a goal of getting better every week. Hand said that task will begin with addressing penalties.

CCHS was flagged seven times for a loss of 70 yards in the game, compared to four penalties for a loss of 35 yards for Jemison.

Hand also said that conditioning and injuries were issues against the Panthers. Even before the first game, expected contributors for CCHS suffered two torn knee ligaments, a dislocated foot and a hyperextended knee.

Then, a spate of cramps forced even more players into roles and positions they were unfamiliar with.

“I don’t know if it was needing to be in better shape or just something we needed to fight through the first night,” Hand said. “That’s the first time I’ve ever had a team that every time you looked out there, you had to go get somebody else because of cramps. It’s hard to be ready for that kind of heat.”

The Tigers will have to address those issues quickly with Homewood coming to town.

The Patriots’ strength is running the football behind an offensive line that features at least two players who could earn scholarships to Division I college programs.

“They try to punish you,” Hand said about Homewood’s approach on offense.

Chilton County would like to have a similar approach but averaged only about 3.5 yards per carry against Jemison.

“That has to be our bread and butter: running the ball,” Hand said. “We couldn’t do it the other night against Jemison.”