East Jackson football coach Cameron Pettus delivered no fiery speeches to his team following a lopsided loss to Jefferson.
Instead, Pettus, in his first year with the Eagles, reiterated the building process for his 3-2 team in the wake of a 70-6 loss to the Dragons last Friday (Sept. 27).
“We knew they’re a great program, and you can tell — they’re an established power,” Pettus said. “We didn’t play our best, but they were much better than us. That’s just the bottom line … We’ve just got to continue to build and get better. That’s the message. We didn’t have any kind of fire and brimstone with our guys just because we’re still building. I knew that when I came here, and I love it.”
Pettus added that he “woke up Saturday morning more excited than anything else.”
“Just because I believe in what we’re doing,” he said.
The Eagles will move on to face defending 8-AAA champion Monroe Area this Friday (Oct. 4) following back-to-back weeks of facing triple option teams (Madison County and Jefferson).
“Coaching wise, we’re very happy to not be going against the triple option,” Pettus said. “We’re ready to get back and play some regular football for us.”
Against Monroe Area, the Eagles will face a team headed offensively by sophomore quarterback Selatian Straughter. The Purple Hurricanes like to put the ball in Straughter’s hands with designed runs, but he is also a passing threat.
“The quarterback is a playmaker now,” Pettus said. “He will hurt you with his feet and with his arm in a lot of different ways. They’re very talented across the board. They’re very athletic. I don’t think they’re as athletic as they were last year, but they are very athletic …They’ve got a solid program as well. We know we have our work cut out for us to go over here and play.”
On the other side of the ball, East Jackson faces a challenge in the trenches where Monroe Area features a lot of size along its defensive front.
“They’re super big up front,” Pettus said. “So, us trying to get movement on the offensive line is going to be tough for us to do this week.”
Pettus also said his team must be more accurate in the passing game to utilize its playmakers in the receiving corps. East Jackson completed less than 50 percent of its passes (10-of-22) in the loss to Jefferson last week.
“When we throw the ball, it’s got to be on target because we’ve got some kids that can catch the ball,” Pettus said.
With his team coming off consecutive losses and half of the season already over, Pettus said he wants to see his team compete better down the stretch.
“We’ve got to be in the games and compete better with the remaining five games, and I feel we’ve got a pretty good shot at doing that,” Pettus said.
He also wants to make sure the momentum of the Eagles 3-2 start — still the best for the program since 2009 — is sustained.
“Our kids, they’re still bought in, and they’re still working hard,” Pettus said. “They were all there on Sunday (for film review) learning and correcting mistakes and getting ready for Monroe … For me, (it’s) just maintaining this excitement level that we’ve got going on right now. Our kids are really buying into the process, and I just want to make sure we keep that going the remainder of the season.”