Tigers use week off to rest, revisit fundamentals

Published 3:21 pm Thursday, October 16, 2014

An off week for Chilton County High School’s football team couldn’t have come at a more perfect time.

The Tigers didn’t play last week after defeating region opponent Valley, 20-6, on Oct. 3.

CCHS (2-5 overall, 1-3 in Class 6A, Region 3 play) had lost four consecutive games between a victory over Jemison on Aug. 28 and the Valley win, but the Tigers were able to carry some momentum and a positive attitude into an extra week of practice.

“Anytime you can win, it’s a good thing,” first-year coach Brian Bradford said.

After losing three games this season by three points or less, Bradford said the Tigers finally played a game in which they didn’t “shoot themselves in the foot,” making critical mistakes that cost them the game.

“In some of those other games, we kept doing things to hurt ourselves, whether it was turnovers, sacks, busted assignments on defense,” Bradford said. “When that happened, we weren’t good enough or mature enough to overcome them.”

Bradford said he’s never been associated with a team that had a bye. He and his staff decided the best way to approach the extra week of practice was to revisit fundamentals, such as blocking and tackling.

“We treated the week like a mini spring training, really just working on ourselves,” Bradford said. “It doesn’t really matter what other teams do if we don’t fix ourselves.”

The Tigers also took the opportunity to rest some injured players by taking off some time during the week. While the win over Valley was nice and needed, it did come at a cost, as several players were dinged up and might have been unavailable had the Tigers played a game last week.

“It really helped us out a lot,” Bradford said of the bye week. “During the season, everything gets kind of long and drawn out.”

Avoiding mistakes was also stressed during the extra practices, Bradford said, with games at Opelika on Friday and at home against Benjamin Russell next week.

Opelika (6-1, 5-0) is the fourth-ranked team in Class 6A, while Russell is the first team listed in the “also receiving votes” category. The teams have lost just two games combined.

“They’re some of the top teams in the state,” Bradford said. “We’re really preaching not doing anything to help them out. We just have to leave it all out on field if we want to have a chance to make history. We’re not going down there to just lay down.”

Bradford said the entire CCHS team, which includes only a handful of players who returned with experience from last year, has improved significantly from the start of the season, especially the offensive and defensive lines.

“There’s a lot of guys that haven’t played a lot,” Bradford said. “The first couple of games, they were just getting used to the speed of football. It’s an eye-opener for them.”

The defensive front has kept the Tigers in games, the coach said, while an offensive line that had only one player with varsity experience coming into the year has gelled.

“They’re still not where we want them to be, but they’ve made huge strides,” Bradford said.

Also this week

• Central-Tuscaloosa (4-3) at Jemison (3-4)

• A.L. Johnson (5-2) at Maplesville (6-0) (Homecoming)

• Verbena (3-4) at Notasulga (4-3)

– All games begin at 7 p.m. unless noted otherwise