Not to be confused with the immensely popular “Fast and Furious” movie series, Jacksonville head football coach Chris Taber said that he hopes to be able to watch a video of his Fight'n Indians giving a “fast and physical” account when the Tribesmen open the 2013 season Friday night against the Carthage Bulldogs (7:30 p.m., Tomato Bowl).
“We feel that the three keys to the game for us are to avoid mistakes, play fast and be the more physical team,”Taber said. “We must be the more physical football team. If we can do that we can keep Carthage from doing some of the things that they want to do and we can then have success.”
Carthage Bulldog football has been synonymous with success for close to 10-years running now under head coach Scott Surratt, who has led the Dawgs into post season play for each of the last six seasons.
Carthage went 11-3 last year, and with 10 starters back on the offensive side including quarterback Blake Bogenschutz, Tevin Pipkin, an All-State running back, and wideout Tee Goree, who scored 17 touchdowns in 2012 for the Dawgs, the expectations are high for Carthage to keep scoreboard operators around East Texas very busy this fall.
“They (Carthage) return 10, 3-year starters on offense, kids that have been in coach Surratt's system for seven years now,” Taber said. “I think where the opportunity is for us is to attack their defense.
“They lost eight starters off of the defense from last year and they are a little bit like us in that they are young and some are still getting up to varsity speed; you can tell that by watching them. We're hoping that our offense can take advantage of that opportunity.”
Despite losing the live portion of its only scrimmage, 10-7 to Bullard last week, Taber said that he was pretty well satisfied with his offense's performance.
“We showed spurts of doing what we wanted to do on offense, but we are young and we have lots of new faces,” he said. “We did a really good job of catching the ball I thought. When the ball was thrown, it didn't touch the ground.”
Junior Carter McCown, a 16-4A All-district player from a season ago returns as the field general for the Tribe.
McCown is having to adjust to basically a completely new group of receivers, with Claude Franklin, Chris Cross, Tony Lane, Cash Cleaver and Jacoby Robinson all having shown promise during the spring and fall camp.
Taber said that the Tribe expect to rotate through about four different running backs as a way of always having a fresh set of legs in the backfield this year.
That group includes Stacy Cummings, Datavian Thacker, Braylon Parish and Lekendrick Anderson.
“We will rotate backs every three or four plays, much like we did at Chapel Hill, with the goal being as the (opposing) defenses start to tire late in the game, we will still have fresh legs in the backfield.”
With only three starters back on defense, the Indians are still very much a work-in-progress in that department.
“We showed our youth in the scrimmage at times and we still need to work on the speed of the game,” Taber said. “But at the same time we had some kids to step up and show us that they want to fight for a starting spot on varsity.”
Two of those pleasant surprises were freshmen Vadall Johnson and Jadarius Blake who were both promoted to the varsity roster earlier this week.
“Vadall has been working with the one's (first team) at Mike linebacker this week,” Taber said. “He is a young kid that is hungary to earn a starting spot on varsity.”
Depending on what poll one refers to, the Bulldogs are ranked anywhere from No. 1 to No. 3 in Texas (Class 3A).
And while that could intimidate some young teams,the Jacksonville ball coach said that is not the case with the Indians.
“They were ranked No. 1 last year and we went over there to their place and beat them, so I think that that has given our team some confidence,” Taber said. “They put their pants on one leg at a time just like we do.
“In the end it's going to come down to who does their jobs the best and who makes the fewest mistakes.”
As for the Dawgs' loft ranking; Taber said that he has made it clear to his squad what his thoughts are on that matter..
“I've told our guys that they don't have to be No. 1 in the state; they just have to focus on being the No. 1 team in that stadium on Friday night,” he said.