Tuesday, September 17, 2013

SPORTS STORY >> Red Devils working on right technique

Leader sports editor

The Jacksonville football team enters week three of the 2013 season without a win and searching for consistency as it prepares for a high-scoring Maumelle squad that enters this Friday’s game at Jan Crow Stadium 2-0.

After being shutout by Cabot in week one, the Red Devils looked like a completely different team in its first two drives last Friday against Benton. After scoring two touchdowns in a matter of minutes, Jacksonville then failed to get a first down in its next four drives. Suddenly, midway through the second quarter, the Devils looked brilliant again, marching 80 yards in eight plays for another score and a 21-7 lead. But from that point, things went poorly again for the offense, while the defense was suddenly on its heels the rest of the game as well.

Benton didn’t do anything fancy. Its best play was the read option handoff to the fullback up the middle.

Jacksonville coach Rick Russell believes technique and effort were the two main problems.

“We have to correct the technique problems we’re having at every position,” Russell said. “That will make us a better football team. We haven’t had a complete game at any position. We need to get better aiming points on our blocks. We need to take the correct approach angle when tackling. The secondary needs to work on how to approach the football in coverage. Every little intricate thing we’re needing to make improvements on.”

Russell also believes the effort will improve when his team can learn to put bad plays behind it.

“We also have to work on our mental toughness,” Russell said. “Sometimes things are going to go well for the other team. We have to understand how to move to the next play and say, ‘right now this next play is the only play of the game and I have to do the best I can on this play. We have to regroup mentally and create that swing that gets things back to going well for us.”

The Hornets may be the fastest team Jacksonville has faced so far. Coach Mike Buchan runs the spread, but keeps it on the ground more often than in the air. Maumelle lines multiple players up at quarterback and has a bevy of dangerous running backs and receivers.

Kendall Donnerson, who is 6-foot-3, 210 pounds and runs a 4.4 second 40-yard dash, is the top receiver, but is a bigger threat at defensive end.

“Maumelle is a dangerous football team,” Russell said. “They run that spread option and every option they have is a threat to make a big play. On defense they have an end that’s as fast as any in the state. They’ve got a lot of weapons.”

Russell wasn’t all negative about his team either. He bragged on special teams, as well as the play of Brandon Toombs.

“Special teams converted every extra point and put a couple of kickoffs into the end zone, so that’s a bright spot for us,” Russell said. “And Brandon Toombs is playing on both sides of the football for us and giving us everything he’s got. We’re very proud of Brandon.

“We’re going to be OK. We haven’t played a complete football game yet. We’re going to make a few changes, tweak a few things here and there, get the right people in the right positions on the football field. Once we do that and get our technique corrected, we’re going to be a good football team.”