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Cougars fall, but learn some valuable lessons

VIEW FROM THE SIDELINES

By DAVID GRAVELY

SWT Sports Editor

Pulaski County dropped a game that most people thought they should have never even played Friday night, falling to the Giles Spartans 28-21.

Nobody likes to get beat, especially when it’s to a team that you SHOULD beat.  Let’s face the facts, Giles is a school in the new 1530013_437485132944537_279580370_n-1A ranks and Pulaski County is a 4A school.  Giles High School should not beat Pulaski County.  That’s not a knock on Giles, in fact the Spartans should use it.  The way they played Friday night, you would think someone had painted it on their locker room walls after the Cougars won the same game a year ago.

Giles has a solid football team, they run an offense that is tough to stop, and they did their jobs.  On top of that, they didn’t make a bunch of mistakes that cost them.  They fumbled the ball one time, but they recovered it.  They didn’t throw any interceptions.  Other than having to punt the ball a few times against air (there were no live special teams plays Friday night) the Spartans did everything they were supposed to do to win.

The Cougars did make some mistakes though, and those mistakes hurt.

“We can’t fumble the ball,” said Cougar Head Coach Todd Jones after the game.  “We were driving the ball and put it on the ground.  You just can’t do that.  We dropped it a few times tonight.  When we made good snaps and held on to the ball, we moved it.  We just need to stop shooting ourselves in the foot.”

The Cougars also did some other things Friday night that may not have helped themselves during the game, but will absolutely help them out over the course of the season.

“We challenged some younger players,” said Jones.  “We put some young men in positions that they normally wouldn’t play in.  We know we have seniors on this team, but we ask a bunch of juniors to show up and make a mark tonight.  Austin Harless, Damon Akers, and Tyler Gravely went in and did what we ask them to do.  They made some mistakes, but the effort was there.  We also had sophomores Noah Patterson and Chase Huff, and seniors Mike McDonald, Brad Rupe, Rob Quesenberry, and Justin Trail getting in quality time tonight.  For most of these guys, this is the first time they have seen a lot of time on varsity, so they had to adjust.  We saw some good things from them.  They’re all very coachable.  We can do something with that.  I think we added some depth tonight.”

There is no question about it, the Cougars have work to do.  They need to tackle better, and they need to do it now.  Arm tackling is not going to get the job done.  The offensive line did well at times, but then there were other times Johnston or the running backs were in trouble quick.  There were a few penalties that had the coaches shaking their heads, like a fourth quarter face mask that moved a drive deeper into Cougar territory.  The Cougar defense held their ground several times in key situations, but would then turn around and give up big yardage plays.

“We know what we need to work on,” said Jones.  “We need to get things tightened up.  We need the guys to get a little tougher and continue to get better every time we play.  As many mistakes as we made tonight, I also saw some positive things.  When Tabor chased the running back down to save a touchdown, he could have just given up, but the didn’t.  When Heath White had that pass come his way down the center of the field, the defender had position.  Heath could have just given up, but he didn’t.  He went up and got the ball.  We dropped some passes tonight, but we also made some good catches.  I like this team, and I believe in them.  We just need to keep pushing each other to get better.  We need everybody.”

I’ve always said it’s not my job to coach the team, it’s my job to report what happens with them and what I see.  Tonight, I saw a bunch of young men getting on the field that may or may not get that chance during the regular season games.  They were playing in positions they may or may not play in during the regular season.  The Cougar coaching staff will now be able to go back to the film room and take a look and see how they did.

I don’t think there is a doubt in anyones mind that the guys who have been there for years…..the guys like Marcus Johnston, Dillon Alley, Kareem Calfee, and James Reynolds…..know how to get the job done.  I don’t think anyone doubts for a second that Tyler Ervine and Jake Tabor are speedy, David “Pocket Rocket” Hale type impact players.  Everybody knows that Heath White and J.D. Sutphin will tackle a tree or small building if they’re told too.

Tonight answered questions, and possibly gave the Cougars some much needed depth.

“Our kids never gave up, they were still ready to go when the clock ran out,” said Jones.  “They kept fighting and didn’t panic.  I know we lost, and I don’t like to lose, but I think we got better as a team tonight.”

We’ll find out next week.  The Cougars will have the weekend to rest up and allow the coaches to put a plan together, and then things are for real.  The Christiansburg Blue Demons are coming to Kenneth J. Dobson Stadium this Friday for week one action.  The Blue Demons defeated Blacksburg 19-10 in a benefit game Friday night in Blacksburg.

Pulaski County needs to get better, and they need to do it now.  The schedule will not get any easier as the season goes on, with many of the ten teams scheduled expected to contend for a playoff spot in the new conference alignment setup.  Winning is the only way to make sure you reach your goals.

I plan to be there early, eat some of that good Golden Cougar Marching Band barbecue, and wait for the PRIDE OF PULASKI COUNTY to walk down those 63 steps.

It’s finally football season Pulaski County.

 

15 Responses to Cougars fall, but learn some valuable lessons

  1. Suf

    August 26, 2013 at 8:34 am

    Big Deal! New season, same ole losing team.

  2. the truth

    August 26, 2013 at 9:48 am

    AMEN!!! What a joke to say some valuable lessons learned. There is NO POSITIVE spin to put on getting beat by Giles Co… How much longer and how many more excuses before they send that joke of a coach packing. He spent all off season looking for another coaching job so they should give him ample time to find one.. His only saving grace may be there WEAK schedule but after getting beat by Giles who knows…

  3. Cougar grad

    August 26, 2013 at 11:42 am

    These armchair coaches. I am sure the entire staff of coaches and especially the kids want to win football games. Pulaski County does not have the population it once had or the amount of talented, eligible student-athletes going out for sports it once had.

  4. the truth part 2

    August 26, 2013 at 12:44 pm

    Pulaski County sports as a whole has turned into Carrol county from the 80′s and 90′s. Cougar grad can stick his head in the sand all he wants, but there is talent to win, but poor coaching all around is the issue. Was a bad hire to bring Jones in. I would have much rather seen Tommy Hale brought back as he has the right scheme to run at Pulaski County.

  5. concerned

    August 26, 2013 at 4:13 pm

    Sorry but there are no Ernie Hodges, Jeff Kings, Brandon Andersons, King Harveys, Porters walking the halls at the school anymore. If you don’t think there is a lack of talent in Pulaski then you are the one with the head in the sand. Look at the basketball program – do you think Hanks forgot how to coach all of a sudden?

    • the truth

      August 26, 2013 at 7:00 pm

      The question is not whether Hanks/Jones forgot how to coach. If you simply look at where he (Hanks) was at when he had success he had a boat load of talented kids that a monkey could probably coach. The same with Jones while at Essex year in and year out he was loaded with talent that again a monkey could probably coach (simply look at what Essex is doing since the departure of Jones). And the truth be known had the school done there due diligence they would have seen that given all the talent Jones had year in and year out how he could possibly only win (1) state title would have been the real question- Answer he is not a good coach. The problem is simply that both of the mentioned individuals have not learned that you can not do the same things at PC, you have to adjust to the talent/type of players that you have and come up with a scheme that makes them competitive which both have failed at with their prospective sports at PC.. That is what makes a good coach taking what you have and making a competitive program. It is easy to coach when you have unlimited talent. The fact is there are talented kids at PC regardless of what anyone says they are simply being utilized the wrong way and it does not take a rocket scientist to see that. The bottom line is Jones is a miserable failure for that program and for anyone that can not see that then there are a lot of heads in the sand.. The loss on Friday to a much smaller school and simply his record since being at PC is all that needs to be referenced to find out what kind of coach he is…You are what your record says you are PERIOD…

  6. Suf

    August 27, 2013 at 2:32 am

    Coach Jones cited mistakes… fumbles, penatlies, etc… these are mistakes that are coachable. Coach them right and they won’t make those mistakes. Just sayin’.

  7. concerned

    August 27, 2013 at 9:11 am

    I’m not arguing that you don’t need good coaches but you have no clue about what a good coach is. I guess you don’t realize how hard it is to win a state championship. The program at Essex after Jones left was terrible despite all the talent (do a little research). They then brought in another coach who did horribly for a year and then got them turned back around.
    Pulaski used to have a huge advantage in football – when you played football as a freshmen you had your own 2nd block physical conditioning class with the freshmen football team – then 2nd semester you moved to 4th block physical conditioning with the JV & Varsity football team. Football players got 8 semesters of weightlifting for an 1 1/2 hours a day throughout their high school years – they also had film sessions, walk throughs, medical treatment and sometimes practices. Those advantages are no longer at PCHS. Those advantages make subpar players 10X better than they would be at different schools.

    I am not saying Coach Jones is or isn’t the answer but the first thing people need to come to grips with is their expectations. The truth is that being competetive in games might be the best that is possible in most years and then competing in the upper tiers of the state level might be once every 10 years.

    As far as Hanks is concerned, he is one of the best coaches in the state. Liberty wasn’t a powerhouse basketball program before he got there and hasn’t been one since he left. When he first came to Pulaski he rebuilt a struggling program into a contender and won a district title with a team that only had 1 player go on to play college basketball at a Division III school. Those teams were built on heart that he developed with little interference and tons of support by parents – those days are over in Pulaski County. Kids and their parents have unrealistic expectations, demand playing time, tell Johnny how he should be starting, getting more minutes etc., want a meeting with an administrator everytime a coach disciplines their kid, gives excuses about missing practice, covers for them when they aren’t doing well in school, allows their kids to lie, look the other way when they know their kids are getting into things they shouldn’t (alcohol, drugs, etc.) The problems are endless… and don’t let me get started on the ability of the school system to attract and hold onto quality coaches, teachers, with the lack of support they receive from the administration, school board, community members as soon as little Johnny’s mommy or daddy voices a complaint about discipline or turning in assignment late. I only hope that Mr. King wins a state baseball title in his first year or people will be crushing him by this time next year. Geez, who would want to coach anymore??

  8. the truth part 2

    August 27, 2013 at 1:01 pm

    I will take the class of 2012 as an example. That group of 8th graders from Pulaski Middle went undefeated. Dublin played them tight in their matchup and would have won if not for a “roughing the QB” flag that should have never been thrown. (Good sell job Andrew) :) That class alone was loaded with talent and he brings in that spread offense that required the QB to think, and that was not a good idea. Stick with the simple wing T and work in your system as time goes by. Kids in Pulaski County were never required to throw the football, let alone think and read defenses. Coach Hicks football was boring to watch, but he won with it! He won because he adapted to the talent level he had. You are NOT much of a coach if in the first three weeks of your tenure and you see you can’t complete a pass but by gosh we are going to stay with it.
    Seems to me Jones has the Al Groh syndrome. Have great talent but doesn’t know how to coach it. If Coach Hicks would have had Pierce Rigney, Long and Cobbs in his backfield they would have at least made the playoffs and probably got pretty deep. Jones didn’t know what to do with it. Instead he tried to throw the football with two quarterbacks that couldn’t throw.
    Basketball is basketball. Who really cares? it doesn’t bring in the money like football does. If the crowd or lack there of from the Giles games doesn’t change, our entire sports department is going to be in dire straights.

  9. Hopeful

    August 27, 2013 at 2:12 pm

    there is plenty of talent on the football field. I have watched many practices and been to the last few games, there are things that need to be worked on, but you also have very talented young men on the sidelines who for whatever reason do not see the field. maybe there should be changes on the field and Pulaski would see a difference. To my knowledge there was only 1 quarterback in the game on Friday. I wish only good for this team, they have worked hard and deserve to win a few games. Hopefully this will happen this season, support is what the young men on the field by coaches, parents and our community. Let’s give that a try. Good Luck to the Cougars of 2013

  10. concerned

    August 27, 2013 at 4:28 pm

    And coach hicks used to get screamed at in the stands for not throwing the football enough – probably from the same one posting the so called truth. Half the parents were saying he had lost it and were calling for his job. Coach Turner was hired and it didn’t take long for the boo birds to come out, now Jones. It doesn’t matter who comes in to coach there will still be a large number of vocal people that come on here and other message boards and bash.

    Let’s step back to your argument about Jones’ 1st year – 6 pass attempts in his 1st game against Radford but rushed the ball for over 200 yds with over 40 attempts (found something that worked) but lost. 2nd game 15 pass attempts and 27 rushing attempts for a whopping 22 yds (guess he should scrap the pass completely and ran it some more), 3rd game 30 pass attempts (250 yds) and 33 rushes for another whopping 66yds. I could go on but I think there were other issues on this team than the coaching – how about no Jimmys and Joes. By the way he did end up winning 5 games including Salem who went on to the playoffs.I actually think he did one hell of a job to get 5 wins out of the bunch especially being hamstrung by the limit on practices by the VHSL.

    • swarm75

      August 28, 2013 at 9:52 am

      Wake up!! You obviously know nothing about football as your points are meaningless. The bottom line is he (Jones) is and has been a failure since being at Pulaski (as his record clearly shows). Your glass half full crap makes my stomach hurt.. I agree with the saying “You are what your record says you are”. It is obvious you are a Jones fan which is certainly your right to support a loser but at some point you and others will have wake up and realize he IS NOT the right fit for Pulaski.. Case in point- Giles 28 PC 21. Enough said.