The Blue Raiders have had almost a week to cleanse their palates after a tough loss last week against Bradley Central. So far, Cleveland head coach Marty Wheeler likes the way the team has handled it and put it in the rear view mirror.
“I think our guys have done a really nice job this week of understanding, and I’ve said it before, the team that puts Friday behind it the quickest is the team that has the best chance of being successful the following week,” he said. “I’m pretty pleased with the way that have bounced back. Practice this week has been pretty good. The fact school has been out for fall break, we are pretty pleased with it.”
With area schools on fall break the challenge of letting go of last week and looking ahead to Friday is a bit more difficult, not only by off-the-field distractions, but by the everyday logistics of getting the entire team to the same spot at the same time.
“It’s a headache,” Wheeler said. “Anytime you are out of school buses don’t run and you have to worry about kids having rides to practice. It’s called fall break, but as far as football goes it’s no break.”
Adding to the burden of getting prepared for Friday is the fact the Raiders are in the middle of a three-game road series that will take them this week over Monteagle Mountain to the home of the Golden Eagles in Shelbyville.
“The schedule has been a challenge,” Wheeler admitted. “The best thing about it is fall break and we can get them here and leave a little earlier than normal. That’s the positive of it. The coaches do the best they can with trying to get the best routine and the best practice plan for the week for our kids.”
When the Blue Raiders (3-3, 1-2 Region 2-6A) arrive in Shelbyville they will go up against at 5-1 Golden Eagles team that is 1-1 in Region 5-5A football. They fell to Page in Week 3 and defeated Lincoln County in Week 6.
“Shelbyville is a really good football team. They have only lost one game,” said Wheeler. “They are really big up front. Their defensive line is huge. They have a really good quarterback. They are a spread type offense, but they have the ability to run the ball as well as anybody we’ve played.”
The plan of attack for the Raiders is simply to continue to get better at what they are now doing, as well as take care of details.
And what they are doing and doing well is giving the ball to Tetoe Boyd and Devarius Bowman. Quarterback Gage Kinsey has found success through the air throwing the ball to Kley McGowan and Samford Commit Robert Flowers.
Boyd has 127 carries and has averaged 4.2 yards per touch with seven touchdowns. Bowman has scored twice on 26 carries and has averaged 6.2 yards per carry.
Flowers has six TDs to his credit and holds a 22 yards per catch average with 24 grabs. McGowan also has a TD with seven catches and a 23.8 ypc average.
“We are going to continue to do what we do. We’re going to try to run the football and stop the run,” Wheeler said. “I think we are getting better at forcing teams to beat us instead of us beating ourselves. We’ve just got to continue to focus upon the little things because the little things are the reason why we’ve lost some games. We haven’t taken care of the little things that matter most. We’ve got to continue to improve on that.”
If the Blue Raiders continue to move forward and give another solid effort, Wheeler feels the chances are pretty good they can come back across the mountain with their fourth win of the season.
“I like our guys’ attitudes. They understand there is a lot of football left to play. If they play like they did in the first half (last week) I like our chances a lot of weeks,” he said. “They really are just starting to get it in spurts — now we’ve got to learn how to finish. Control the football and not turn the ball over.”