Familiar foes meet as TJCA faces Tigers

Aug. 30, 2013 @ 04:21 AM

Sometimes in the non-conference portion of the prep football season, two teams meet that aren’t that familiar with one another.

Not so for the Thomas Jefferson Gryphons and the Rosman Tigers. 

Tonight will mark the third time in less than 12 months that these two teams will tangle. TJCA won the regular season meeting in 2012, 28-27, while Rosman claimed a 26-14 postseason victory.

“I don’t think it (familiarity) helps one team over another,” said TJCA head coach Jerry Cash. “But we do know what they are going to do and they know what we are going to do. Both teams just have a few different kids that we are doing it with.”

What the Tigers do on offense is run the ball out of a veer option set. Their ground game racked up 310 yards in a 40-27 win over Brevard last week. Leading the charge was sophomore tailback Landon Shipman who garnered 179 yards and four touchdowns.

Cash admits stopping that option attack will be no easy task.

“The option looks like a simple offense to stop, but it’s not,” he said. “Rosman runs a midline option, an inside veer, and an outside veer. On every play, we are going to have to account for the quarterback, the tailback, and the pitchman. We have to play assignment football and that can be difficult.”

The key will be putting pressure on the Tiger’s sophomore quarterback Josh Rice.

“The only way to stop the option is to stop the quarterback,” said Cash. “It all starts with him. He is a talented player and he will be very good at the end of the year. I think the biggest thing is to get in the backfield, cause a few turnovers, and take the crowd out of it.”

Offensively, TJCA will look to find success in the passing game against a Tiger defense that likes to load the box to stop the run.

“I think we can use our speed to our advantage,” Cash said. “Rosman likes to take away the run, so you will see more of a spread this week to get Efrim (Borders), Tyler (Mitchell), and the other receivers the ball. Mason Martin is going to have to be really sharp, though, because when you throw the ball a lot, there is always a chance they will score six the other way.”

Martin was more than sharp last week against Robert E. Lee. The junior was a perfect 6-for-6 for 144 yards and three touchdowns.

Cash believes the Gryphons will also have a big advantage in the return game.

“I’d be absolutely shocked if they kicked the ball to Efrim after his return last week,” he said. “Tyler will probably be the one getting the ball and that’s fine with me. He can score, too. If they kick it short, we will have great field position.”

If TJCA can exploit their advantages on offense and returns, Cash believes the Gryphons can move to 2-0 for the second consecutive year.

“We are on the verge of having a great season and a win here would certainly be a step in that direction,” he said. “If we play well and stay healthy, we have a chance to win every week. Rosman is one of the tougher teams on our schedule. A win against them on the road would be big. They are a good team, though, and we can’t just go in and check them off as a win. If we don’t play well, they can beat us. We will just have to see what happens.”

Kickoff is set for 7:30 pm.