Altus Times Sports Editor Mark Glenn had a question and answer session with Altus High School Head Football Coach Chad Stone. They talked the season opening loss to Vernon and looked toward the rest of the season.
Q: The Vernon game obviously didn’t work out like you wanted it to. Let’s talk about what was good and what was bad. First the bad.
A: It’s was like what we thought. We had a couple of young defensive tackles, one that we had just moved there that week. We had one of our defensive tackles (Albert Anguiano) early in the first quarter go down with a broken ankle. It’s hard to simulate how quickly they run that trap. Just as hard for Vernon scout team to simulate how we run the veer. So, they gave up some plays early. They weren’t getting their hands on the person in front of them and they were getting trapped. When they got back off the field we told them they had to get their hands on them. Your not getting that done. Right before halftime we change their alignment a little bit when they more head up on the guy on them. That seemed to lessen things a little bit. From that time on they (Vernon) had trouble running the trap as effectively. Making them work for it in the second half is what we had envisioned. We knew they were a good offensive team. We have to play better from the get go.
Offensively the bad is we have to finish. We had approximately 400 yards of offense. Almost 350 on the ground. Like you pointed out, we had more first downs and if you look at time of possession we had a little more than they did. The game from a statistical stand point looked pretty even. The difference was they were finishing those drive the first half. I think both of us got a little tired, a little winded. I think you saw toward the end of the game they didn’t have their starters and the reason wasn’t because they felt comfortable with the lead. I was talking with coach Bateman (Vernon head coach Mark Bateman) and he said you have a different team. You guys scared us quite a bit. They fought hard until the end. So, we have to finish, not put the ball on the ground in key situations, we have to focus in and make sure we’re in the right formation not just for a six yard gain but for a 60 yard gain.
Q: Now let’s look at what happened that was good.
A: The good defensively is once we got the adjustment made, they had a much tougher go of things. Our linebackers, inside and outside linebackers are probably further along than at any point last year. We forced an interception right before the half. It was a great play by Jayden Benway. Our defensive goal is that we wanted three turnovers and we forced three turnovers. Damon Welch (defensive tackle) had a solid second half. Nathan Buddenhagen had a very, very solid game at defensive end. Those two guys are both under classmen and are going to continue to get better. They are very young as far as experience is concerned. Having a week off is a great time to get those guys lots of reps.
The good thing offensively obviously is we’re taking up chunks of yardage. We had three guys that were right at or close to 100 yards rushing. So it’s not just one person. We still feel like they are another two backs that can go for that on any given night. I feel strong that regardless of who we are playing, we’re going to be able to move the ball. That was struggle for us last year. Chase Garrison (offensive tackle) went down with a concussion. He will miss a couple of weeks, we may hold him out until district play starts. So over the next two games we are looking at starting 11 under classmen.You can’t place how valuable the reps are for those under classmen.
Q: Going back to this time last year, I think this is a better football team.
A: I hope its apparent. I hope everyone can see how hard these kids are working. We had Labor Day practice and film on Saturday (day after Vernon game). Almost every kid was there. There were very few we had to do make ups. They are dedicated. They are willing to get better.
Q: What will you do different?
A: As we work conditioning, we are doing focus exercises. Changing up counts, changing what we’re asking them to do. Making them think when they are tired. Things of that nature. Hopefully that’s going to remedy a couple of different things. It’s going to help them stay focused on their assignments.
Q: This is rare time when you have an off week. What did you do this week?
A: It’s real similar in my opinion what the colleges get their end of the season game and when they earn that bowl bid. Those are just extra practices for us. Monday was veer day. So we went out and we ran veer every direction, every formation against different fronts. Just to show them it doesn’t matter how they line up. There are a set of rules that go along with and it can be executed no matter what they do. We went over some of the finer points of the scheme. We did our inside and outside veer and yesterday. Tuesday was iso (isolation play) day. We just going to work on perfecting our offense.
Defensively we have been working hard since the starting of camp on defending the run which I kind of say with a little bit of laugh after Orlando Haymon shreds us for 274, Those guys have been working hard on their fits and things like that. We’re going to have to switch gears for next week. Lawton Eisenower has gone away from their flex pistol option stuff and their in straight spread. We have done a lot of defense 7 on 7 and things like that.
Did you work on Eisenhower in the off week?
We would like to work on the them. But Lawton Eisenhower is getting ready for Lawton High, so it’s not like they are volunteering to let us see their scrimmage tapes so we can prepare for them for two weeks. So this week is about us. Their are certain concepts that all spread offenses run. We can start working on defense checks that we think Lawton Ike is going to do. Before we start game planning we want to see some film. We will live scout them and Lawton High on Friday night (last Friday). We will have a live intra squad scrimmage Friday at the regular practice time.
Don’t you think it’s going to get better?
A: I do. I’m extremely optimistic. No disrespect to anyone. I think our facebook page has pictures of four players for last season that either played in their first college game last week end or they are going to play this week. We had good people last year but I really feel that the tightness of this team and the fact they have worked so hard, we may be better at every position with the exception of the kicker right now than any time last year. These kids have to continue to grind and work to get better.