Jacksonville Daily Progress
Jacksonville concludes its non-district season on Friday by journeying to Marshall to take on the Mavericks at 7: 30 p.m. at Maverick Stadium.
The Indians and the Mavs will both be looking for their first win of 2013 as each unit is 0-4.
Both clubs have had tough rows to hoe as the Tribe's losses have come to Carthage, Palestine, Gilmer and Henderson who are a combined 12-4, while the Mavs have been knocked off by Kilgore, Longview Bossier City (La.) Parkway and Whitehouse, who have amassed gaudy combined records of 12-1.
Even though Marshall owns a decisive edge in the overall series, Jacksonville has won the last four meetings against the boys from Harrison County.
The Mavs have a brand new head coach this year as former Jacksonville assistant Clint Harper — yet another Danny Long disciple — was named as the team's head coach in the off season.
Both teams will enjoy their respective off weeks next week before plunging into loop play on Oct. 11.
The Tribe made slight improvement in some areas in a 40-20 road loss to Henderson last week.
Trailing by only a touchdown, 20-14, at intermission, the game was closer than the final score indicated.
“Defensively I thought we played pretty well last week,” Tribe mentor Chris Taber said. “Our offense sputtered...we just haven't been able to put it all together and the light bulb hasn't come on in enough of our young kids' head.
“We have talent and the effort is there, if anything we are still seeing some of our kids trying to do too much.”
The Tribe played without four starters (injuries/illness) last week, which played havoc on the depth situation at some spots, with several Injuns forced to go both ways.
Among the four missing was running back Datavion Thacker (illness) which led to a sub-par performance in the Tribe's running game.
Things are looking up for this week, however.
“All of our running backs (Stacy Cummings, Braylon Parish, Lekendrick Anderson and Thacker) are healthy this week,” Taber said. “With Thacker out last week that hurt us and our rotation.”
Taber said that it is critical that the Tribe establish a running game each week.
“'Til we get our running game going we are going to struggle,” Taber said.
Some of Taber's frustration in his team's off night running the ball last week were centered on the shoulders of the offensive line.
“We don't have the big kids up front like the rest of the schools do,” he commented. “When you have 6-foot-2, 200-pound lineman you have to take the best angles and get the push off of the ball and we're not doing that right now and that makes it hard on the running backs to find a lane to run it.”
Taber said that extra time has been spent in practice this week in an attempt to clean some things up on the O-line.
Marshall's struggles have taken place on both sides of the ball as the Mavs have been outscored by an average of 47-11 in the first month of the season — by comparison Jacksonville has lost its first-four games by an average of 50-26.
After giving up 330 yards and five touchdowns via the air to Pat Mahomes and Whitehouse last week, the Mav defenders will certainly have to show improvement in that area against a Tribe team that has demonstrated the ability to effectively move the ball through the air behind quarterback Carter McCown and receivers Claude Franklin, Cast Cleaver and Trent Sansom. .
Offensively Marshall averages just 235 total yards a game, with 135 of that coming from the team's passing game.
Quarterback Justin Holt (46-79-5 — 524, 2 TD) anchors things on the offensive side for Marshall, with Mitchell Leonard (13-179, 1 TD) being his top receiver.
The Mavs' running game is carved out around Jacque Kuykendall who has rushed for 149 yards this season and averages 3.8 a trot.
“Marshall has a good coaching staff over there and they will get things going,” Taber said. “Their kids are a lot like ours in that they are still trying to figure a lot of things out.”