Jackson vs Graves

Jaiden Jackson fights through a tackle in the season opener against Grave's County. This week his contributions will be critical as the Tigers face a tough road test against Union County.

MURRAY —  The head coach for the Murray High Tiger football team, Keith Hodge, said that last year’s 10-8 loss against Union County had nothing to do with lack of effort from Murray High and that his team fought hard against the Braves. Instead, he credited the loss to lack of proper execution.

“Looking back, we missed opportunities last year by not executing well. It wasn’t an effort thing,” Hodge said. 

Hodge foresees his team exerting more urgency and capitalizing better against the Union County Braves when the Tigers travel to compete with them on Friday. 

Hodge believes this year’s team will be able to overcome the gap in scores that last year’s team wasn’t able to.

“A lot of the same guys for us are back, so there’s no reason for us not to be different and play like it,” Hodge said. 

Those who played in last year’s game include Jorden Duffy, Jaiden Jackson, Charvelle McCallister, Noah Merriss, Kayden Rogers and Hunter Utley.

Merriss, the Tiger’s starting kicker, was having some trouble with his ankle last week, but, according to Hodge, Merriss will be good to go for this Friday night’s game. He’s back kicking again. 

Unfortunately, Daniel Klukan and Cameron Youngblood will not be in the game on Friday.

“We’ll be without two players against Union that we believe help us but that’s why it always goes back to who is willing to compete and step up,” Hodge said. 

After last week’s 58-7 win against the Marshall County Marshals, Murray is feeling pretty good. However, Hodge would still like to see improvement in certain areas.

“We need more guys willing to step up and find ways to contribute,” he said. “We need to see our depth in certain spots want to compete and help the team win. Practice reps and continuing to improve all fundamentals is still such a big part of the season. We definitely do not want to start becoming satisfied with our effort and technique. Those areas need to constantly improve every day.”

Specifically against Union County, Hodge wants to improve missing tackles and staying on blocks. 

“Still, those are the things that win ball games,” he said. “Union has done a heck of a job stopping the run over the past couple of years, so it’s something we have to gradually establish in this game. If we can reset the line of scrimmage on both sides, we will make some good things happen. Their run game is very effective, and their backs make them go. So if we slow their run game down early, I think we’ll be sitting in good positions.”

Hodge understands that the Braves will attack the Tigers’ weak spots just as the Tigers’ will try to attack the Union County weaknesses. 

“But, it really boils down to who brings more fight in the one-on-one match-ups,” Hodge said. “We can’t be satisfied with matching their physicality, we need to set that tone right front the start.”

The Tigers currently have a winning record of 2-1. This is the first game of the season that the Tigers will be traveling. Despite the change of scene, Hodge has no worries.

“It’s mental because the field is still 100 yards. They have grass and lines,” he said. “Once we start, we should be dialed in.”

Junior Tiger Sebastian Lawrence expects Friday’s game to be of utmost competitiveness. His team will have to fully focus in order to succeed like he knows they can.

“It’s going to be an ape fight,” Lawrence said. “It’s going to be a very, very physical game.”

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