One play made or not made can decide an entire football game. Just ask Grovetown head coach Rodney Holder.
"Going back and looking at the film, we're trying to get an understanding that little things make a big difference," he said. "A couple plays here or there, and a couple of assignments here or there ... if everyone's doing their job, it's a little different situation."
The Warriors began the season 0-2, and the losses to Greenbrier and Evans came by four points each game. Holder pointed out that missed assignments don't mean the players aren't working hard.
"No fault on the hustle," he stressed. "The hustle's there. It's just the execution. That's what we've been working on."
Knights playing 'prudently'
Evans head coach Marty Jackson said he was concerned heading into the season because he didn't necessarily have any established leaders. As it turns out, it has been a blessing of sorts.
"We've had the quiet leadership that has worked out well for us," he said. "It hasn't been an individual, but the group."
The result for the Knights, who had a bye weekend and are 3-0 heading into Friday night's game against North Augusta, has been quiet confidence on the field and a tendency to do things the right way.
Jackson said the team has cleaned up early-season penalties. He also noted the team's turnover margin as a strong point.
"We've been pretty prudent with the ball. We haven't been loosey-goosey," he said. "We haven't had a turnover this year. We've picked up six, so we've had a plus-six. ... I know we're going to have a turnover sooner or later, but being able to respond to adversity is big."
The Knights have had opportunities to do just that. They beat Grovetown from behind in a roller-coaster affair with a fourth-quarter halfback pass, and held tough on the goal-line to edge Richmond Academy.
Wolfpack display will to win
Last year, Greenbrier played a difficult schedule while in Class AAAAA. Head coach Brian Smith said it has benefited his team big-time this season.
"We've learned how to fight to win," he said. "That's just been such a positive this year over last year. We know we're in every game."
Accordingly, the Wolfpack has been in every game this season, coming from behind to win the season-opener against Grovetown before falling in tight contests to Richmond Academy and Hephzibah.
Smith said the key looking forward is shoring up the fundamentals.
"Really just the basics," he said. "We need to block a little better. We've had some issues up front by everybody. Just a blown assignment here or there.
"Special teams, we've done some great things and we've made some really bone-headed mistakes. Defensively, it's the same thing."
The story of the early season for Lakeside has been finishing, both on offense and on defense, as the Panthers were 1-2 heading into Friday night's home game against state powerhouse Northside-Warner Robins.
First-year head coach Jarrett Troxler said the offense has not been able to capitalize in the red zone. It was an issue in a tight game against Thomson, a 10-9 loss.
"Both times in the red zone we got points, but we need touchdowns," he said. "We had third-and-4, and if we get a touchdown there, we win the game."
On defense, Troxler noted, the problem has been giving up big plays, something the Panthers did even in a lopsided season-opening victory over Glenn Hills.
Bulldogs try to spark offense
Defensively, Harlem head coach Jimmie Lewis said, the season has gone fairly well. Now, the offense must get going to match.
Lewis said his team has been matched up against teams with athletes who have speed his team simply cannot match.
"Speed, or lack of," he said of an aspect that has hurt the Bulldogs. "We've been having to deal with Warren County and Lincoln County's speed, and we just don't have the speed to compete."
Harlem has scored just seven points in two games while giving up 33.5 points per game. Still, Lewis said he'd rather schedule good teams to get a true gauge of his team.
"I'd rather play them than play two (bad) teams and go into region thinking we're everything and a bag of chips and really we're nothing," he said.
Lions QB shows another side
Augusta Christian head coach Keith Walton has had a nice surprise early in the season.
Coming into 2010, he pictured Tyler Roberson as more of the pocket quarterback who would be more comfortable throwing. It turns out he's a physical runner, too.
"He's a lot more mobile than we thought," Walton said. "We can open up the playbook a little more."
The Lions beat Cardinal Newman soundly, 34-3, but have lost a pair of games that were close in the second half.
In the season-opener against Porter-Gaud, the Lions were down by three points in the third quarter before injuries to both starting cornerbacks allowed Porter-Gaud to roll up the yardage and points in the fourth quarter.
Injuries and lack of depth have been concerns for Walton. On the other side, he mentioned the offensive line and talented, athletic skill players who have run the option well thus far.
Lead uplifts Cavaliers in program's first year
Augusta Prep found itself leading 13-7 against New Creation, the defending champions in the Alabama-Georgia Independent League.
The Cavaliers ended up losing the game 21-13, but playing against a team much bigger physically -- and leading nonetheless -- was big for the first-year junior varsity squad.
"It was a big confidence-builder," head coach Harry Bacheller said.
Augusta Prep's first JV home game is scheduled for Oct. 2 against Edmund Burke.
Bacheller said the squad should be very competitive in two years when it starts region play. Right now, he said he'd love to get a victory for his small group of seniors, though they're enjoying themselves regardless.
"They're making great memories," he said.
Bites from injury bug are contagious
Though Troxler said he has players stepping up to fill their roles, the loss of quarterback Mark Weidenaar (out for the season after tearing the ACL and MCL in his knee) and linebacker Kendal Parker (missed the first three games with a leg injury) has been tough to take.
"We've had to go without our two best players pretty much," Troxler said.
The Panthers haven't been the only ones to feel the sting of injuries.
In a Sept. 10 loss to Hephzibah, Greenbrier lost quarterback Scott Reeder to a broken collarbone.
Head coach Brian Smith said the senior will be out four to six weeks. Starting in his absence is junior Jordan Hunt.
"One thing he brings to the table is he's a solid runner. He's a smart kid," Smith said of Hunt. "He makes good decisions, and I think the big thing for him this week is just getting reps."
Hunter Hamilton, the center and integral part of Harlem's triple-option offense, and quarterback Zach McIntire both have suffered ankle injuries.
Starting in their place Friday night were Dalton Deckert and Trey Price, respectively.
Lewis said both could have played Friday if the game were a region contest, but he held both out to get healthy heading into the region schedule.
Augusta Christian hasn't lost anyone for the season, but a pair of contributors are out at the moment.
Starting linebacker David Westerbrook separated his shoulder, while tight end/defensive lineman Taj Walton is out a week or two with a groin strain.
Augusta Prep freshman quarterback Nate Pylant suffered a dislocated shoulder in the Cavaliers' 21-13 loss to New Creation.
The Cavaliers were winning 13-7 when the injury occurred.
The Columbia County News-Times ©2013. All Rights Reserved.