After what Cleveland coach Ron Crawford deemed a reasonably successful scrimmage Friday at Alcoa, the Blue Raiders wrapped up their two-a-day sessions Monday in sweltering conditions.
The Raiders fought through the Monday blues, Crawford said, and wound up the grueling twice daily sessions on a good note.
“We struggled a little bit today, but I think the heat jumped up more than it has been. It was a little hotter and probably more humid than it has been. We struggled to fight through it,” said the coach of the sweltering conditions. “We had to slow things down and take more breaks, but I thought our guys fought through it pretty good.”
Against the Tornados, the Blue Raiders put up one score and gave up one score, all the while being evaluated by the Cleveland staff looking to see who will fill positions not yet firmly filled.
“I think we made some progress. We went against a good football team. It really surprised me, actually, it ended 1 to 1, one score each. I really thought maybe both of us would score more points,” Crawford said.
“Both offenses would kind of get three or four first downs and stall out and have to punt.”
Defensively, the Blue Raiders held their own against the Tornados, Crawford said. Cleveland gave up only one touchdown on a pass play.
“I was proud we played pretty good on defense. We gave up a third-and-9 for a touchdown on a long pass. They are a grind it out football team. I was pretty pleased we were able to keep them from grinding it on us and force them to punt quite a bit.”
The Blue Raiders scored their lone TD in a similar manner on a “bow route” from Austin Herink to D.J. Jones.
The one glaring wrench in the Big Blue machinery was the kicking game, a problem the Cleveland head coach laid squarely on the himself and staff. Crawford recounted two fumbled punts that could have either tuned into 14 points or given Alcoa a scoring opportunity in the red zone.
“The kicking game was terrible for us. We’ve got to fix our special team problems. They are a symptom of us as coaches more than it is the kids. We’ve got to find ways to fix them. It’s not our kids’ problems right now. It’s a coaching problem and we’ve got to get it addressed and get it fixed,” he said.
The Blue Raiders have been also bitten by the injury bug, particularly at the center and safety positions.
“They seem to be all at the same position. We’ve got three centers out and some safeties. If you are a center or a safety, it’s not good right now. I guess they probably might be asking to be somewhere else because it’s been bad luck so far,” joked Crawford.
Cleveland travels to Jefferson County Wednesday for a final scrimmage before Saturday’s dress rehearsal in Finley Stadium jamboree action.