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File / The Outlook Central Coosa's Dontaye Gilder (22) was a big defensive standout for the Cougars last week especially in the second half.

While other teams were preparing for their first region football games of the season, Central Coosa was focused on only itself.

The Cougars were off Friday night, putting their bye week in between the first two weeks and their first region game. They did so for a reason.

“That was scheduled purposefully,” Coosa coach Brett Thomas said. “It’s to make sure everybody is healthy and rested and to make sure we put them in the best position possible to try to get a region win and a win at homecoming.”

Coosa will usher in Fayetteville next week for its annual homecoming festivities, and the Wolves should match up much better with the Cougars than their first two opponents of Winterboro and Holtville.

But although the Wolves will be bearing down next week when Coosa opens Class 2A Region 4 action, for now, the Cougars have to get back to the basics. With so few numbers during the summer and even during fall camp, they still haven’t had much time to work as a complete team.

“I would like to say we’re preparing specifically for Fayetteville but realistically this is basically our fourth week of just having a team,” Thomas said. “Both games so far, one of the biggest issues is fundamentals of tackling — arm tackling, reaching, angles of pursuit. All of those things, we’re teaching now rather than in the summer.

“Outside containment, a direct approach to the running instead of taking an angle and pushing him back inside, protecting the sideline — those are things that we have to consistently teach over and over again until it gets in their heads, especially when you have players that have never played the game.”

There were some bright spots for Coosa last week despite a lopsided 41-0 loss to Holtville. For one, the Bulldogs are now ranked No. 10 in Class 4A in the Alabama Sports Writers Association so the loss was relatively expected. But more importantly, the Cougars still gained some yardage and had a few standouts on the defensive side.

Moving Donta Daniel to quarterback seemed to help the offense run more smoothly, as Ryan Payne was moved to slot receiver.

“Just keeping the ball in your biggest threat’s hands, that’s the philosophy,” Thomas said. “We want to get the ball to our offensive threat. But it’s basically the same issues that we’ve had since I’ve been coaching. We have a problem holding the line. To get the ball out of the backfield a little quicker, we moved Donta back to quarterback and we were a little more successful the second half.”

The good news is with Daniel at quarterback, he does have a few offensive weapons he can utilize. Seketrius Miliner continues to be an important threat and Tra Butler, a sophomore, emerged during last week’s game.

“We have a lot of backs so (Donta) doesn’t necessarily have to run,” Thomas said. “We actually have more depth at those key positions that we can sub out.”

Defensively, J.R. Chapman finished with 10 tackles and Noel Jones and Daniel both had strong games at defensive back. Thomas also said Dontaye Gilder was a standout, especially in the second half.

“It’s about getting players to understand their specific roles and the little things,” Thomas said. “We’re still trying to find some type of scheme for our line that can put them in a position to be successful.”

Thomas is hopeful he can bring up a few JV players for next week’s game against Fayetteville.

Lizi Arbogast is the sports editor at Tallapoosa Publishers, Inc.