Jacksonville Daily Progress
Be it fishing or football, if one follows either sport for very long, it is inevitable to hear about the one that got away.
The Jacksonville Indians let last Friday's game against state-ranked Gilmer slip away — the Tribe (1-2) led 26-7 with 9:18 to play in the third quarter before the No. 17-ranked (Class 3A) Buckeyes (2-1) made a furious comeback effort to post a 34-33 win over the Indians.
The Tribe's inability to seal the deal wasn't because of lack of effort, rather a shortage of bodies.
Jacksonville went into last week's game minus five starters including standouts Carter McCown, Sha'kil Mosley and Stacy Cummings.
“Our kids played their tails off, but our injuries showed up in the fourth quarter,” Jacksonville head coach Chris Taber said. “When you have five starters out and many of your kids are playing both ways already, you don't have the depth to sub some kids out.
“D.D. Franklin played the entire game at quarterback and at corner. Darrell Minifee was in on 174 snaps.”
Taber said that he feels that like he will be able to do a better job in allocating personnel this week, should the Tribe find itself short handed once again.
“I've sat down with our coaches and we have discussed some things about how we can utilize our kids, based on what we learned last week, and I think that we will be more able to do a better job in that area from a coaching point of view if we continue to have several kids out,” Taber said.
McCown is not expected to be available for Friday's non-district tilt against Henderson, but the status of Mosley and Cummings wasn't know as of press time and may not be decided upon until the very last minute, as injuries both sustained in practice last week continue to heal.
One area that the Tribe will have to get better in this week is in special teams.
From missing the first point after touchdown try early in the first quarter to a mishandled snap on a punt deep in Indian territory in the closing minutes, special teams were not very special last week, to say the least.
“We lost the battle of special teams on Friday night,” Taber said. “They (Gilmer) got an on-side kick that they never should have got, we missed a point after touchdown in a one-point game and we had a problem on snap on a punt there very late in the game that everyone remembers.”
Taber said that the issues the Indians incurred had nothing to do with lack of preparation, but more to do with kids playing out of position, which is a residual of having a handful of injuries to deal with.
“When you have new guys in new spots because of injuries sometimes your execution is not as good and we didn't execute (on special teams) well,”Taber said. “We spend a bunch of time every week in practice working on special teams, so our problems were not because of lack of practice.”
Henderson and Jacksonville first met way back in 1919 and Friday's game will be the 80th meeting between the two teams — the Lions have won 60-percent of those contests.
The last time the two teams played, the Indians won 56-55 in 2009 in a game that was played at Lions Stadium.
The Tribe exited last week's game with many positives.
For starters, the offensive line played much better, and Franklin proved to be a more than adequate replacement for McCown under center.
Franklin carried the ball 20 times and picked up 152 yards and scored one rushing touchdown.
He went 9-of-18 through the air for 146 yards and two touchdowns and just for grins he picked off a Gilmer pass and returned it for six points.
Trevor Ewalt, who has played at quarterback this year as well did a commendable performance running the ball and netting yardage in key situations as the Tribe unveiled the two-quarterback backfield for the first time last week.
And, defensive coordinator Mike Waldie's boys did a good for most of the night in keeping Gilmer in check, until fatigue set in due to being thin in number.
Look for Henderson, coached by Dickey Meeks, to come into the game fired up and blood thirsty as the Lions had one to slip away from them last week as well, as Hallsville eked out a 21-20 upset win to spoil Henderson Homecoming 2012.
Much like Jacksonville, Henderson's special teams had their share of gaffes last Friday, with some of those being spurred on by poor field conditions due to heavy rain that fell before and during portions of the game.
Overall the Lions coughed up the pigskin 12 times last week, and lost four of those.
The Lions took a late 20-14 lead, with a botched snap on the PAT try coming back to bite Henderson big time.
Then in the closing moments, trailing by one point, the Lions lined up for a 26-yard field goal attempt that would have given them the win.
But, the snap was mishandled and that ended the Lions' hopes once and for all.
As a result of the defeat, Henderson at 1-2 sees its record dip below .500 for the first time since 2009.
Henderson's only win was a road win that came in Week 1, a 26-14 verdict over Nacogdoches.
The Lion defense has shown a knack for getting stronger as the game wears on — Henderson held Nacogdoches to minus-40 yards in the second half and limited Hallsville to just 43 total yards and three first downs in the final 24 minutes last week, so first half success by the Indians may be imperative in this game.
Friday's game will be Henderson's final non-district outing before the Lions travel to Spring Hill to kick off District 16-3A play next week, so a big effort from Henderson is expected in this one.