MURRAY — Even after a crushing 49-17 win against Fort Campbell last Friday, head coach for the Murray High Tiger football team, Keith Hodge, is still seeing some areas in need of some overall improvement before the team plays their next district game against Ballard Memorial tonight.
“Coverage on special teams has fallen off some the past couple games,” Hodge said. “We need to understand how important it is to do your job well on special teams. Good teams understand how important special teams are.”
Nonetheless, the consistent senior Noah Merriss has continued to be a strong point for the Tigers on special teams this season. Merriss has made all 28 of his attempted extra points this season. He averages 4.7 per game. The Tigers have not missed a single extra-point kick yet this year.
Hodge would also like to see an improvement in his teams’ communication. After the game against Fort Campbell, Tiger quarterback Hunter Utley said that while communication had improved, it still wasn’t where it needed to be.
“Communication offensively is something we’ll continue to harp on,” Hodge said. “We have to all be on the same page in executing.”
Lastly, Hodge would like to see improvement in pursuit in space along with tackling.
“Fort Campbell hurt us in space and it’s something that is hard at any level, but missing one to two tackles equals 15-20 more yards,” Hodge said. “Pursuit helps tremendously in the open field.”
The Tigers’ opponents for tonight, the Ballard Memorial Bombers, are currently 1-5 on the season and 0-1 in the district. Murray High is currently 5-1 and 1-0. The Tigers should be able to add another win to their district record after tonight’s game.
However, Hodge said that they will still have to approach this game just as seriously as any other.
“First, it’s a district game,” Hodge said. “All are beyond important. Second, all it takes is a few plays and Ballard will have all the confidence they need. We expect their best game so far. They have the ability to be very strong in special teams play, push our tempo offensively and put points up early. We may see some relentless flying around to the ball.”
Ballard Memorial does some things a little differently than other football teams in the area.
“They kick a lot of onside kicks and do a few other untraditional things,” Hodge said. They throw a lot of different formations at you to get you out of position for their triple option. Defensively, they’ve shown a couple of different looks, but we like how we’ve prepared for these areas.”
Unfortunately, the Tigers will have to perform this week without one of their main offensive players, senior wide receiver Jaiden Jackson. Jackson currently leads the team for points scored with nine touchdowns and three two-point conversions for a total of 60 points. Jackson averages ten points per game.
Murray High will have to make do without those points this week because Jackson will be sticking to the sidelines tonight. He aggravated an ACL injury against Fort Campbell and is unsure of when he will be well enough to play again. After already losing running back Dijon Miles, this injury is not something the Tigers needed at this point in the season.
“Injuries have had a big impact on the team so far this season,” Hodge said. “These guys work way too hard to not be out there competing with the team, but, also, the team misses them. We want to go into every game with a full, healthy team, but that’s hardly ever the case, so other guys have to prepare themselves. But, beyond the wins or losses it can impact, it’s just hard not seeing them be able to play and miss the opportunity they work so hard for.”
Even with the loss of some vital players, Hodge knows the team will be able to execute their game plan from start to finish tonight.
“If everyone trusts their role and pushes themselves to be better every play, we should do well,” Hodge said.