Both Cooper and Littlefield entered 2011 with high hopes and high expectations, with each team figured to compete for a district championship.
That might still happen, but the starts that the Pirates and Wildcats have gotten off to does not signal as such. Both teams are 1-2, and after opening 2011 with victories have each lost two straight.
“We’ve been putting a lot on quarterbacks John Chandler (Keane) and Nolan (Savage) and moving those guys around,” Cooper coach John Windham said. “I think we’ll settle down this week and settle on a system for Friday that will be a little less stressful for those guys and they’ll know exactly what will happen on Friday night.”
After scoring 28 points in its opening win against Idalou, Cooper has scored just 20 points combined in losses to Snyder and Seminole. Windham said Seminole’s massive offensive line, which features 6-foot-5, 252-pound Rance Layton as its anchor, dominated the Pirates on the line of scrimmage, and that’s where the Pirates’ problems stemmed from in a 20-7 loss to the Indians.
Windham said the key this week will be simplifying formations to cut down on the amount of information the players have to remember each play, with the hope being they can play faster and more free with less to think about.
“We need to find some confidence on offense and win a
couple of games going into district so that we feel good about ourselves and have our heads up,” Windham said.
For Littlefield, however, the sense of urgency is greater. The Wildcats have an off week this week before opening District 1-2A, Division I action a week from Friday at River Road.
Littlefield, ranked in the top 10 in the preseason Associated Press poll, started the season well with a 43-point win over Brownfield. Over the past two weeks, however, the Wildcats have scored just 21 points in losses to defending Class 2A Division II state champion Idalou and Class 3A Shallowater.
The defense has struggled as well, giving up 56 points in the last two weeks. A team that averaged 270 yards per game allowed during the 2010 regular season, the Wildcats have given up 350 yards to Idalou and 442 to Shallowater in the past two weeks.
“Those are two good football teams, they really are,” head coach Bryan Huseman said. “Losing 23 seniors has been a bigger burden than even we thought it would be. We still have some good kids in the right positions. We’re just making mistakes, technique, fundamental mistakes that are costing us. We’ve got some stuff we have to fix and it’s taken us a lot longer than anyone has wanted it to take us.”
Going into the season, Huseman said there would be numerous players having to play on both sides of the ball, more than he’s used to, and that conditioning has been a factor. He said cramps began creeping into the game against Idalou, and conditioning was not where it needed to be in the fourth quarter against Shallowater.
To that end, the break could serve Littlefield well.
“Though we’d love to be back on the field on Friday night, it will be OK,” Huseman said. “We have to do some running, some conditioning and see if we can’t get in better shape. Hopefully as the year goes we can get better and better and the kids can get used to it.”
Hitting the bye week
Aside from the teams that didn’t play in Week 0, the first big round of bye weeks are set for this week as District’s 3-4A and 1-2A, Division I, begin league action in two weeks.
One team that appears ready for district play is Frenship, which has rolled to a 3-0 start and has outscored opponents 115-27. The Tigers have allowed just one touchdown per game, and last week’s opponent, Monterey, was the first to gain more than 200 yards in total offense.
Frenship was 3-0 this time last year, but coach Brad Davis said it’s just not the same feeling.
“We’re a much better football team, no doubt about it,” Davis said after Friday’s 32-13 win over Monterey. “We’re better offensively, we’re better defensively, and it’s a much better feeling going into our first district game.”
Injuries are about the only concern for Davis at the moment. Starting center David Ortiz has been out since the preseason with a shoulder injury, and back up center Kyle Rutherford missed Friday’s game with a foot injury. That forced junior Dalyn Bearden from left tackle to center, and junior backup Rhett Cates was given the task of protecting starting quarterback Tucker Tuberville’s blind side.
Davis said while getting healthy for Hereford in two weeks is the main goal for the bye, the Tigers aren’t going to wait until next week to talk about the Whitefaces.
“We’re going to go to work and spend two weeks getting ready for Hereford,” Davis said. “It’s our first district game against a quality opponent so it’s huge for us. We’re not going to take a week off.”
Tony Navarez’s touchdown midway through the second quarter for Midland Greenwood Friday was the first touchdown allowed by Estacado this season. ... Caprock, Frenship and Randall all finished non-district at 3-0 in 3-4A. All three were also 3-0 in 2010, but Frenship was the only one of the three not to make the playoffs. ... Petersburg has outscored its opponents 172-16, by far the largest scoring differential on the South Plains.
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