Cougars fall, but learn some valuable lessons



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. sports supporter

    August 28, 2013 at 9:22 am

    Funny thing is so far the JV team looks good throwing and running. If you have more talented players on the JV team than heart and talent on the Varsity, MOVE THEM UP to play!

  2. concerned

    August 28, 2013 at 2:30 pm

    Not for or against Jones, It doesn’t matter who you get to coach if everyone in Pulaski thinks these are the Cougars of the 80’s and 90’s – Bottom line is there are very few Jimmys and Joes walking the halls in Pulaski anymore and some of you just cant stand hearing it b/c everybody wants to believe their kids are just as good as those kids across the bridge or in Newport News – sorry to break the news to you but they aren’t.

    If you are who your record is then Todd Jones was 63-11 at Essex in 6 yrs – but I know what your going to say – he had talent. Yep – definitely part of it,Bingo, now your starting to get it but Mr. Jones did have a part in developing and discipling that bunch that was a lot worse when he left with that same talent with a new football coach. In 6 yrs one state championship, 1 runner up, and 2 other appearances in the state-semi finals (thats 4 regional championships total in 6 yrs) Are you still a believer in you are what your record says it is?

    I don’t think I’m the one that needs to wake up. I’m a cougar till the day I die – that’s what I remember saying in the locker room and in the huddles. It breaks my heart when we lose but at the same time I’m a realist. Do I question calls – yes? Do I question scheme sometimes – yes? However, I’m not at practice everyday, I don’t watch film, and I don’t spend my days and nights yelling about out my friday night perceptions when I don’t have all the evidence and don’t know what went on at practice, in the classroom or wherever. I support whoever has the headsets on b/c I know how tough it must be to be in that pressure cooker with unrealistic expectations to compete for a state championship every year.

    I’ll root for the cougars and Mr. Jones this year and every Friday night and root for the next coach next year if there is a change or if there isn’t one.

  3. the truth part 2

    August 28, 2013 at 3:25 pm

    Only other commment I want to make is that there is a change in the players since the Coach Hicks day. We live in the age of players that played in youth leagues that everyone got a trophy. Win or lose you got a trophy. Doesn’t matter if you win or lose, you still get rewarded. They lose now and within hours they are over it and into whatever is going on. When we lost back in the 80’s it carried with us for the weekend into the following week until we were able to avenge ourselves on Friday night. Made us work harder during the week! There is no work ethic to these kids of today. Most not all! I agree with “hopeful” that there are kids and have been kids that have been talented enough to be on the field and they were on the sidelines on Friday night. I don’t know why, but the only conclusion I can come to is Jones and his staff are terrible at recognizing and evaluating talent. And yes “concerned” there were people that complained about Coach Hicks, but there were ALOT of butts in the seats on Friday night. There are not alot of butts in the seats now because no one wants to watch that undisciplined crap!

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