Oscar Smith head coach Chris Scott (Photo: Joe Barnes/recruit757)
A tough loss only starts the season for Oscar Smith
by Andy Hilton, recruit757
Oscar Smith may have taken a loss to Highland Springs on Saturday, but they walk away from that loss with a lot of things to be proud of and a lot a lessons learned.
LESSON ONE: Defense
The defense is ready for prime time. Oscar Smith held Highland Springs scoreless despite playing on a short field for almost all of the second quarter. The Springers played ball control in the second half, and put the Smith defense on the field for all but four snaps in the third quarter. That will likely be the most weight that the Tiger defense will have to carry all season. The Oscar Smith defense finally yielded points in the second half, but they only gave up one TD in the third quarter and one in the fourth quarter for a total of 13 points. On any other night against most any other team, the Tiger offense should be able to score 14 points or more and win.
LESSON TWO: Special Teams
The punting game was simply abysmal. When the Tigers needed to flip the field, they couldn’t do it. Coach Chris Scott is known for pushing for fourth down conversions. The Tigers will score a lot and punt less than most other teams. When they do need to punt, they’ll need a punter who can get the ball out of Tiger territory. They didn’t have that Saturday night. It might have been the pressure of the moment, but the lack of punting yardage easily cost Smith more than 100 yards of field position on the night.
LESSON THREE: Penalties
Mistakes will be made in the first game of the season. The Tigers were penalized more than a dozen times, which was triple what the Springers dealt with. It’s said that the biggest progress for a football team is made between game one and game two. Highland Springs had the benefit of playing their opener a week earlier. Young players in a pressure situation are more likely to make mistakes, which lead to penalties, which cost the team yardage and big plays.
LESSON FOUR: Young players
Unlike most Smith teams in past years, this year’s Tigers don’t have a core of highly experienced, big name seniors. Linebacker Malcolm Britt anchors the defense. Play maker Romon “Man Man” Copeland contributes plenty on offense and defense. Outside of those two guys, the opportunities are open for young player and/or unproven players to make big plays. That means that Saturday provided a lot of opportunities for the cream to rise to the top. By the end of the season, week one unknowns will be well known by regional fans of high school football. The Tigers will grow up a lot.
“The beginning (of the game vs. Highland Springs) was exactly what we wanted: to come out and score. From there, the onslaught of penalties on the offensive side hurt the defense and put those guys in tough field position. As long as we keep the offense going without penalties, maybe we give them a better fight. Our defense fought really hard. I’m definitely proud of these guys on both sides of the ball. We have some things on special teams that we need to clean up and we have to take care of those penalties,” said Oscar Smith head coach Chris Scott immediately after the game.
“We had three, maybe four punts go out of bounds (for short yardage). We went for it on fourth down because of those situations at times and came up short. We continued to give the defensive guys a short field. Again, (it was) a tough battle. You gotta expect that when you’re going against a four-time state champion. I think we have some champions on this team and we’re going to get in there on Monday and get to work and start our journey towards what we gotta do.”
The Tigers host Lakeland (0-1) on Friday night and it will be a reunion for the coaching staff and players from last year’s Oscar Smith team. Former Oscar Smith defensive coordinator Joe Jones left the Smith program to become the head coach at Lakeland High School in the off-season.
– Andy Hilton