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Thursday, February 9, 2023

Charleston Looks to Rebound From Week 1 Loss

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The sun came up Saturday morning.

I heard a famous coach once say, “When you play on the road, nothing is as good as it seems, and nothing is as bad as it seems.” That applies to the Tigers loss Friday night in Conway. As bad as it felt walking off the field that night, nevertheless, the sun came up Saturday morning. It was not the end of the world. It was time to evaluate what happened and move forward with preparation for next week’s opponent.

After analyzing Friday night’s game film, Coach Ricky May pointed out several positives from the Tigers performance. “Our defensive front played excellent. I kind of just came up with an approximate number; we gave up around 39 yards of rushing, which was very promising. Our defensive line played really well. Shane Turner, Slade Skeets, and Devin Donberger played really well, all three of those guys. Our back end (secondary) needs a whole lot of work. We were in position several times, but just didn’t make the play. So, we watched the film today and hopefully we are going to get that corrected. Dardanelle likes to throw it as well. We have got to get it fixed fast.”

The Tigers look to rebound this Friday against the Dardanelle Sand Lizards. It won’t be an easy task facing Dardanelle on the road. The Sand Lizards are traditionally a tough 4A program to play in Dardanelle. With injuries to key Charleston players, it will be even more challenging for the Tigers.

Friday’s game is very important for Charleston. It is important for them to put last week’s heartbreaking loss to Melbourne behind them. The Tigers have to find a way to win in week two. They have an open date in week three and have the chance to get some of their key players back for a week four match-up at Ozark and before moving into conference play in week five. Charleston would like to be 1-1 on the season going into the break with a chance to get some of their players back on the field. Coach May, when asked about possibly getting players back from injury, responded, “That’s big. We want to win our non-conference games; week four is when it really starts. We talked to the kids about that today. We want to win the next two games, but the overall goal is to win the conference, make the playoffs. Winning non-conference games is not going to do it for you.”

The Sand Lizards came from behind last week to win on the road at Gentry 17-14. In similar fashion to the Tigers game, Dardanelle rushed for the go-ahead score with 4:18 remaining in the game. The Sand Lizards offense had 328 yards of total offense. Dardanelle had 166 yards rushing, of which, 56 yards were on the drive that gave the Sand Lizards the lead. Dardanelle’s dual-threat quarterback Metcalf threw for 77 yards and ran for an additional 118 yards on 17 carries. He completed 8 of 17 pass attempts. ” He (Metcalf) is very athletic and very dangerous.” Defensively, the Sand Lizards allowed 166 yards rushing on 25 carries, or 6.64 yards per carry. “Gentry had a lot of success on the ground, and they (Gentry) threw the ball too. “The defense allowed 112 yards passing on 17 attempts and had two interceptions. “They (Dardanelle’s defensive line) are huge up front. Gosh, they are huge up front, and we’re not. That will be a one of which is better, size or speed.” On special teams, Dardanelle gave up 138 yards on 5 kickoff returns, or 27.6 yards per return.

Charleston faces an early season test on the road this Friday night. It may seem too soon to say that this week’s game is an important one for the Tigers, but for many reasons, this week’s game is critical for Charleston. “Since we didn’t win the first game, I feel like this one is a big one. It gives the kids a little more motivation going into the off week to focus on the things we really need to fix. But, I think if you were to lose the game, then I think you have to think about two losses with an off week and I think it gets a lot harder.”

The Tigers need to respond and show themselves, as well as their fans, their character to bounce back from adversity. “This morning we were watching film and I challenged them; there are two ways you can do this. You can pout about it and not get any better, or we can take the mindset that by next week we are going to be leaps and bounds better than we were last week. They (the players) were all in agreement that we are going to get better, and coach, I will do whatever I need to do. I talked to them about staying a little later, the secondary guys, to do a few more things. They were all for it; coach we’ll do whatever we need to do. So, that was real promising. I didn’t dwell on it. I told them we have a new week, a new day, so, let’s go and get better.”

The Tigers need their loyal fans to once again make the trip down highway 22 to support their team. “We’re (the team) going to come out and get better. We are excited and we are going to do our best to make the community proud.”

Charleston is a proud program with a championship pedigree. Their pride is on the line, and Charleston will respond.

I look for the Tigers to show up big in Dardanelle this Friday night.

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Jim Best
Jim Best is a man of many talents. His storied career in Arkansas education led him to a new passion, and hidden gifts in sports journalism.
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