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Sunday, July 14, 2024

Sr Tigers Rip-Roaring For Redemption

Arkansas River Valley Business Directory

Needless to say, the chaos of 2020 not only affected the entire world but the Mansfield Sr Tigers football team as well as the effects were felt on and off the field. Questions swirled about how well the Tigers would fair after losing a senior-heavy talent pool in 2019 along with possible pandemic quarantines. The Tigers answered the first question with a 41-0 routing of future 2A-4 Champion, Magazine. That unfortunately was where the 2020 test went from high school questions to a lawyer bar exam for the Tigers as they dropped the next nine games in a row. Quarantines, inexperience, injuries, and low numbers on the team and at practices could be used as excuses, but the Tigers aren’t into making excuses.

This season, Mansfield will gain a little bit of on-field experience, but the team numbers and size will still be small. That being the case, both coaches and players are working double-time to overcome these obstacles. The Tigers will lean on the experience of those who played last season along with a few new faces to assist. Tyler Turnipseed and Christian Cass have really stood out so far in summer practices,” explained head coach, Tim Cothran. “Turnipseed has emerged as a team leader and is a real gamer. He has always been good, but he is poised to take a big leap as a sophomore and should make quite an impact for us this year. And Cass has looked great in camps. He has a very good work ethic and is turning into a strong senior leader.”

Offensively, Mansfield has the tools to put points up. Quarterback senior, Zayne Dugan, has the arm and has developed his accuracy over the summer. Dugan will have an onslaught of quick revivers to take aim at with Turnipseed, Tommy Phang, Drew Elmore, Austin Carlton, Clint Stovall, and Tyler Woolbright as sure-handed targets. The Tigers will also have a powerful duo of hard-nosed running backs in senior, Shawn Brown, and junior, Caleb Collier, to get the tough yards while also helping open up Dugan’s passing game.

The defense will be the main focus for 2021 though. Although Mansfield racked up a respectable 168 points on offense last year, the Tigers allowed an average of 40 points per game. Stopping the big plays and opponent momentum will be critical. The Tigers will be lacking size on the defensive front in 2021, but what they lack in size they will make up with quick agile linemen. Defensive linemen such as Dru Buckner, Austin Quinalty, and Braxton Byers, have the capability to be backfield nightmares. The pass defense will see many of the same faces as in 2020 but with a catch. Players like Carlton, Woolbright, Elmore, and Greyson Baggett had little on-field experience last year as they faced the 3A-1 air raid offenses. That will not be the case this season as the Tiger defensive backs are better prepared and begging for a wide receiver to come their way. “If our defense can work out the problems we are having we will certainly be competitive. They have stepped it up in our camps and have looked good. We know we are able to move the ball on offense, we just have to continue working with the defense to get some big stops and turnovers.”

Mansfield’s schedule will not get any easier this season as they will face adversity at every turn. Non-Conference wise, they host the Magazine Rattlers who were the 2020 2A-4 Champions, go straight into the Battle of Scott County, then close non-conference play with a trip to Elkins to square off against last year’s 4A-1 Runner-Up Elks. Then it’s on to the ever-powerful 3A-1 conference. Although the adversity will surely be present, the Sr Tigers will not only be waiting for it, they’ll be ready for it as well.

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