Lighting a fire: Gryphons hope to ride emotions to win
Often times, a coach wants his players to stay calm leading up to and during a big football game.
But Thomas Jefferson (6-2, 1-1 SPC) head coach Jerry Cash is taking the exact opposite approach ahead of the Gryphons road contest with Bessemer City (4-4,2-0 SPC) tonight.
“The kids have responded well in practice this week (after a loss),” Cash said. “I’ve never had any issue with how hard they work in practice. They are so workman like and go about their business. That is a good thing. But when you come out flat and show no emotion during the game, like we did last week, that can hurt you. I don’t know what the problem was. This is a big game and we need to get excited and play like it.”
The matchup with the Yellow Jackets is indeed an important one. The Gryphons face a must win situation if they want to remain in the hunt for a conference title.
“The team understands how big this game is,” Cash said. “We kind of put our backs against the wall by having to win out, but we are going to give it our best effort.”
That effort will be buoyed by the return of WR/DB/K Mason Fenner to the lineup.
“With all the injuries we had last week, it was like we had to rob Peter to pay Paul,” Cash said. “Mason Martin had to play defense and they ran him down the field 40 yards every time they could, which really limited his effectiveness at quarterback. This week with Fenner back, not only will that help in the kicking game, they (Bessemer City) can’t all focus on Efrim ( Borders). I think that’s going to open things up for us a bit.”
Aside from involving Fenner and Borders, Cash says establishing a running game is also crucial.
“We ran the ball well on our first drive last week and then it just disappeared,” he said. “Mason Martin ran the ball well, but you don’t want your quarterback getting most of your yards in the running game. We have to do a better job of getting the other backs involved.”
While the Gryphons struggled on the ground last week, the Yellow Jackets were running wild. Against Pine Lake Prep, Bessemer City’s triple option racked up 515 rushing yards on just 32 carries and average 258 rushing yards per game this season. They are led by 1000 yard rusher, fullback Cedric Mackey.
“They are a Georgia Tech option team,” Cash said.“Their offense runs through their fullback. We have seen this offense several times this year, mostly against Rosman. We have had some success against it before and I think that we be an advantage for us.”
For Cash, however, the biggest key to the game, can’t be found in offense, defense, or even special teams. It all comes down to emotion.
“We have been on the road for a long time,” Cash said. “But now we can see the light at the end of the tunnel. We better come out this week with fire, intensity, and emotion. Those are the things that allow you to make the plays you wouldn’t normally make, and that’s what it’s going to take to win Friday.”
Kickoff is set for 7:30 pm.