2017-10-12 / Sports

Tigers establish running game in 40-27 win over Greene

MALIK HALL GETS AROUND ONE OF THOSE GREENE COUNTY TIGERS He raced and scrambled for a total of 200 yards rushing in last Friday night’s game. MALIK HALL GETS AROUND ONE OF THOSE GREENE COUNTY TIGERS He raced and scrambled for a total of 200 yards rushing in last Friday night’s game. The steady, week-to-week improvement continued last Friday night as the Washington-Wilkes Tigers strolled to a 40-27 win over Greene County in a game which was not as close as the score might suggest. Having relied heavily on the passing game and big plays in recent weeks, W-W took to the turf in Greensboro.

It was the second region contest for the Tigers and the win puts them technically in second place for the moment at 2-0, behind Aquinas because the Irish have a better overall record at 4-2. W-W is now out of the losers bracket and stands at 3-3 overall.

The Tigers ran 77 plays, 60 of them on the ground averaging 5.6 yards per carry, to amass a whopping 477 yards of total offense against the other Tigers. And most importantly, W-W put together three scoring drives over 15 plays each which not only took a lot of time off the clock but established the Tigers’ ability to control the game.

D’MYTRI WIGGS FIND A HOLE IN THE GREENE DEFENSE He ran for 84 yards and an average of 6.5 yards per carry. D’MYTRI WIGGS FIND A HOLE IN THE GREENE DEFENSE He ran for 84 yards and an average of 6.5 yards per carry. “We knew we wanted to come out and run the football,” Tiger Head Coach Chad Alligood said. “We hadn’t done a good job of that all year – just sustaining drives. We were having to rely on the big play. We have got to be able to get up under the center and grind the ball.”

Fans noticed right away that quarterback DonDon Anthony was not at his usual spot in the shotgun formation, but was under center Bailey Brock. Also, D’Mytri Wiggs was back on the offensive side of the ball and Brock Jackson “did a really good job at fullback,” Alligood said.

“They did a lot of stunting on defense and had a lot of guys up front so we kept it really simple on what we did,” Alligood said, and it became quickly apparent that it was the right thing to do.

RAEKWON BINNS CATCHES A THIRD-QUARTER PASS IN THE END ZONE He had four catches for 30 yards and two touchdowns (and another called back) against Greene. RAEKWON BINNS CATCHES A THIRD-QUARTER PASS IN THE END ZONE He had four catches for 30 yards and two touchdowns (and another called back) against Greene. W-W jumped out to a three-touchdown lead and it wasn’t until well into the second quarter that Greene County managed to score.

“I was proud of our guys for putting together three 16-play drives,” Alligood bragged. “To be able to do that in high school football is huge. We ran 77 plays and that is a lot of plays for a huddle-up team. That was a testament to our kids. They were just grinding the clock and the ball out.”

The bulk of that grinding came from senior running back Malik Hall who carried the ball 36 times for an even 200 yards averaging 5.6 yards per carry. Even in spite of twisting an ankle early in the game, he came back strong finding the holes, shrugging off tacklers, and running over others. He was noticed many times back on his feet helping up the guy who eventually made the tackle.

“Malik is hard-nosed. It was good to see him have a game like that,” Alligood said. “He has become such a patient runner and is really starting to understand the blocking scheme up front and who is going where. So he’s being patient and finding his holes. He does a really good job on pass protection too. Malik is a really good all-around football player.”

And then there is Donovan “Don- Don” Anthony, speaking of players who are maturing in their positions. He threw three touchdown passes among his 11 completions and had at least a couple of others which would have been complete except for interference (whether the flag was thrown or not).

“Some throws that DonDon made in the end zone to Raekwon Binns [two touchdowns plus one catch in the end zone called back] were as good as you’ll see in any level of football,” Alligood said. “He put them right where they needed to be and both of those passes were on him.” The coach explained that there was another play called, but Anthony saw the opportunity to throw to Binns. “That shows you how mature he’s getting at understanding our offense,” Alligood said. “When he’s able to do that is when we wlll become pretty good on offense.”

The Tigers’ successes were not because Greene County was a slouch. They had some really good players – including quarterback Kelley and running back Elder who was quick and slippery – and had won their previous three games.

“They had players as good as you’d want in several positions,” Alligood said. “We just played hard. Even defensively. That’s the part we’re trying to get. There are about six or seven plays that we give up each game that we’re trying to get a hold on. Other than about six plays we played really well on defense.” He also pointed to some special plays made by the special teams who are also “playing hard.”

“Playing hard every single play” has been what Alligood and the coaching staff have preached and drilled on since the Tigers lined up against Hart County in the pre-season scrimmage. He seems to be seeing his team get it, now six games into the season.

“We have played some teams with some really, really good football players but I don’t they think play as hard as our guys are starting to play,” the coach said, though still not satisfied. “For us to get to where we need to be, we’ve got to do that on every snap.”

Throughout the game, at least starting midway through the second quarter, the score seemed to make the game look closer than it really was. W-W was unstoppable (never punted the entire game) and the defense seemed okay as well. But Greene still managed to come up with points.

“At halftime we were up 19-6 but it felt like we should have been up 35-6,” Alligood said. “We were in control of the game but they were in striking distance. When they came out and scored on their first drive of the second half to make it 19-12, I felt like we were still in control but offensively, we had to take that ball down the field and score.

“I felt like they would never stop us as long as we could get the ball, and eat the clock,” he continued. “That is essentially the difference in the game – the fact that they couldn’t slow us down.”

All year, the Tigers have been struggling with making the points after touchdown and without a reliable kicker, have usually been going for two-point conversion with limited success. In Greensboro, when the Tigers scored their third touchdown, Anthony lined up and kicked the ball between the uprights. He then did it twice more during the game. So add that to the sophomore’s list of talents.

“We’re trying to do everything we can to get every extra point we can and it is an adventure,” Alligood commented.

And speaking of kickers, the coach said he would love to kick it deep on kickoffs, “but we don’t have anybody to kick it deep. So we have to become really creative on how to kick off. I would love to have a kicker who could kick it to the end zone every single time. We’ve just got to figure what we can do to give our guys the best chance.

Coming up this Friday night the W-W Tigers will stay on the road for a trip to Sparta where they will take on the Hancock Central Bulldogs who are not having a good year so far. Still Hancock can be surprising at times and usually sports a lot of speed.

In their region games, the Bulldogs have lost to Aquinas (14-45) and last week to Lincoln County (0-49) and the Red Devils bounced back after losing to W-W.

“They have good players,” Alligood reported. “I know they are 0-6 but they have athletes that will scare you. They can score on offense at any moment and on defense they run around trying to make big plays.

“We have got to do a good job of playing assignment football on both sides of the ball,” the coach continued. “It’s on the road, it’s their homecoming, and they will be playing somewhat inspired, so we just have to continue to get better in some areas.

“We are not a dominant football team so we could get ourselves in a dog fight in a hurry if we don’t execute and play hard.”

Weekly improvement continues to be a mantra of Alligood’s strategy. “We cannot relax, we cannot take a step backwards, this week we have got to take huge step forward,” he said.

Game time in Sparta is 7:30 p.m.

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