2017-08-17 / Sports

New Tigers get first taste of football at Hart County

MALIK HALL GETS AROUND A HART COUNTY BULLDOG He later scored the first of the Tigers’ three touchdowns. MALIK HALL GETS AROUND A HART COUNTY BULLDOG He later scored the first of the Tigers’ three touchdowns. It wasn’t a game. But if it had been a game, it would have played out just about as expected for a first encounter of the year between a hosting AAA team and a traveling Class A opponent. For the Tigers, a somewhat struggle some first quarter followed by a settling down and keeping up for the rest of the game. No big stellar moments – well maybe a few – and no bright-shining superstars.

What it was, was a scrimmage – a scrimmage with a whole different purpose from a game and a whole different look if you consider it for what it was. Fans and coaches got to see more players on the field and the players got to practice, in a game situation, things they needed to work on, not necessarily what they were already good at. The scrimmage at Hart County last Friday night served that purpose well, new Head Coach Chad Alligood was basically pleased, and now W-W has two weeks to work on the things it found out need tweaking.

THE TIGER DEFENSE SMOTHERS A BALL CARRIER Coach Alligood wants his defense to “learn to run to the ball.” THE TIGER DEFENSE SMOTHERS A BALL CARRIER Coach Alligood wants his defense to “learn to run to the ball.” “There were a lot of things I liked,” Alligood said. “From a coaching standpoint, you treat a scrimmage a lot different from the way to treat a game because you want to see a lot of kids on the field and you want to see the team execute. We played a lot of different kids and we did a lot of things on both sides of the ball just so we could get some looks. I was pleased for the most part.”

The needed tweaking is in going 100 percent all the time.

“We’ve still got a long way to go to understand that you’ve got to play hard every single play no matter what the situation is and no matter who’s on the field,” Alligood said. “You have to play hard and there’s not any time during a game that you can take a play off. I think we had some kids who didn’t go hard all the time. We’ve got to get that corrected.”

DEONDRE LESTER snags a long pass to set up a TD. DEONDRE LESTER snags a long pass to set up a TD. The Tiger offense stalled on its game-opening possession and Hart answered with a touchdown largely set up by an unbelievable reception by what appeared to be a well-covered receiver. It would be two more touchdowns by the Bulldogs before W-W settled down and scored one of its own late in the second quarter.

The Tigers actually beat the Bulldogs in rushing yardage for the game but four turnovers took their toll. Both teams completed 14 passes but Hart’s passing added up to 312 yards while the Tigers, though respectable, was short of that at 198.

“Overall, I was pleased with a lot of things but we still have a long way to go to where we want to be,” Alligood said. “On offense, we’ve got to execute a little bit better and in our throwing game, we did do some good things but we’ve got to run crisper routes and the quarterback’s got to get on his rhythm a little bit more.”

The coach knew his team was having success on the ground and acknowledged that the Tigers “could have run the option all night but it wouldn’t have made us a better football team.” Instead, he needed to see some other things, so that’s the direction the play-calling took.

He was also watching the little things like getting out of the huddle, and getting lined up quickly. Again, acknowledging that “it just takes time to get used to the kind of tempo I’m looking for.”

On defense, Alligood wants the Tigers to learn to run to the ball. “We gave up too many plays for lack of effort,” he said. “The effort part was probably the most disturbing thing to me. If you’re in the lineup you’ve got to go. You’ve got to play your assignment and I think we had some kids that reverted to [an older way of playing].”

The W-W offense started doing more good things after halftime and put a couple of drives together for touchdowns in the third quarter before the ninth graders and JV players took over for the fourth quarter. The defense had one good chance to stop Hart in the third quarter and then could have possibly tied the game up. But it wasn’t meant to be.

“Overall, I like where we are and this week we’ve got to worry about just ourselves, “ Alligood said. “We’re going to try to get better on both sides of the ball. I’m glad we’ve got this off week before it gets all for real.”

Fairly late in the second quarter, starting running back Malik Hall was led, limping off the field. A few minutes later, he limped into the end zone, scoring the first W-W touchdown from about two yards out. He had suffered a “slight sprain.”

“Malik is going to be okay,” Alligood reported. “It was good to see him get back out there and run around. He’s a tough joker.”

No other injuries were suffered by the Tigers during the game.

After the two-week break, W-W will open its regular season a somewhat shorter distance up Georgia Highway 17 at Elbert County on August 25.

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