A 23-game losing streak could very well come to an end this week.
At least that’s the feeling around the Central Coosa football locker room.
The Cougars have a lot going for them heading into their Class 2A Region 4 opener against Fayetteville. Not only are the Wolverines a bit more on their level than their first two opponents have been, but the Cougars are also coming off a bye week and are looking for a lot of community support tonight.
With such a limited offseason due to numbers, Central Coosa (0-2, 0-0) didn’t even really have a full team until school officially started and other teams were a few days into their fall camps.
But the bye week last week allowed the Cougars to have that camp.
“It was our chance to rest some players that got some nicks and scrapes,” Coosa coach Brett Thomas said. “We looked at existing game tape and hopefully got to brush up on some simple basic areas. The biggest thing was the bye week gave us a chance to work on fundamentals that we don’t get to work on in the summertime due to lack of attendance.”
The No. 1 focus for Thomas and the Cougars remains the offensive line. It’s no secret Coosa has offensive weapons. Donta Daniel could easily be a starting running back for any Class 2A school, and Noel Jones has proven on the basketball court he’s a force to be reckoned with. But without some protection up front, those athletes can’t even get the ball.
And that could be a challenge against Fayetteville (2-1, 0-1).
“They consistently get a lot of penetration at the line,” Thomas said. “That’s going to always be my first area of concern until we can get that down. That’s going to be the first thing I always pay attention to.”
Cole Scott is a first-year football player on the line, but Thomas said he’s coming along well, and eighth-grader Heath Joiner has also been a standout despite his youth.
“We have made some adjustments to the line,” Thomas said. “Unfortunately we don’t have enough players to see if it works during practice, so whatever you do, you wait until the game to see if it works or not. We’re changing some of our blocking schemes and how the line comes off the ball.
“One of the problems was it was taking one of them so long to come out of their stance, the defensive player was in the backfield by the time we looked up. We’ve tried to overcome some deficiencies just with some techniques that we’ve taught.”
On both sides, Thomas is hoping Noel Jones and Dawson Duncan will be standouts and use some of their senior leadership to their advantage. But his biggest worry is Fayetteville’s receivers. Quarterback Andrew Machen likes to sling it around and he’s got some solid targets to look to.
“I’m most concerned about their receivers because they are some big, big boys,” Thomas said. “That’s what concerns me because our defensive backs are small. Hopefully we can just get enough pressure on the quarterback that he can’t set up to get the ball downfield.”
While most teams have at least one region game under their belt, Central Coosa will start its playoff hunt tonight, which is also homecoming. And although the postseason seems out of the question to most fans, the region isn’t all that dominating after the first couple teams.
“Winning this first game, a playoff appearance is not out of reach,” Thomas said. “Actually this is probably honestly the best I’ve felt going into a game. And it has nothing to do with Fayetteville’s ability. It’s about the preparation we’ve made for two weeks.”