While the Apalachee High School football team fell to Gainesville Friday, head coach Shane Davis said he was encouraged to see the improvements the Wildcats made in several areas.
“We did make some improvements,” Davis said. “If you just look at the score and nothing else, you would wonder how in the world you got better. However, we did see some improvements.”
Trailing 21-0 to Gainesville, AHS had two scoring opportunities which it did not take advantage of. The Red Elephants meanwhile would tack on another touchdown late in the first half for a 28-0 advantage.
“It’s tough,” Davis said of his team’s 0-3 start and 0-1 mark in Region 8-AAAAA. “We as a staff and a program have never been where we are right now. We will keep stressing the things we always do. If we do the things that are right and continue to get better then the scoreboard will take care of itself. Of course, that’s easy to believe when you are winning. It’s tougher when you are losing. We just have to concentrate on getting better.”
The road doesn’t get any smoother for the Wildcats this week as they travel to Athens to face Clarke Central. Even with a coaching change during the offseason, the Gladiators are 2-1 going into this week. Clarke Central was off last Friday but has already posted a 27-17 region win against Loganville on Sept. 13.
“They are still a typical Clarke Central team,” Davis said. “Coach (Ahren) Self was the defensive coordinator the last few years so it will pretty much be what we are used to seeing. They have good size on the offense and defensive lines and still have great skill people.”
One aspect Davis said his team needs to overcome is the lack of big-play potential. While Jody Mathis has made a “couple of big plays,” the Wildcats have not been able to make big gains,” Davis said. Kent Knowles, along with Mathis, has provided some offensive spark for the team.
“At least we haven’t had big plays on a consistent basis,” Davis said. “We have to eliminate our mistakes and not put ourselves in tough situations. We will continue to do everything we can to control the clock. Even with our record and with the loss last week, I thought our kids played awfully hard. Yet at the end of the day, the only thing that matters is what the final score is.”
AHS offensive coordinator Joel Miller concurs that Clarke Central is a typical Clarke Central team.
“They are big, fast and well coached,” Miller said. “Their secondary is very aggressive and they run well at all positions. I think they are very disciplined in what they do. They don’t seem to be out of position a lot. They are a 3-4 team, but will get an extra guy in the box when they can. We have to start executing better. It seems like every play at least one person is missing their block. At some point we have to cut the mistakes out and put it all together, if we are going to be successful.”
Defensive coordinator Matt Sorrells said this year’s Gladiators will be as good as teams in past seasons.
The team is typically a playoff contender and qualifier.
“Their coaches do a great job using formations to obtain an advantage,” Sorrells said Monday. “They run many different plays out of many different formations. Their skill kids are very good as usual and they are very physical on the offensive line. They can spread you out and throw it or they can get in two tight ends and go to their power run game. Their diversity on offense definitely poses a challenge for defenses.”