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Young Cougar will improve

The Cougar football team took the field for the first time Friday in a controlled scrimmage against the Christiansburg Blue Demons. The day went about as expected, with the young Cougars showing signs of youth and inexperience at spots, but improvements can be expected quickly.


Each year, the first scrimmage is a chance for the coaches to see the team in action for the first time. That scrimmage is filmed and then broken down. The coaches use that film as a very effective teaching tool, pointing out mistakes in different areas.


Sometimes, those mistakes are easily corrected. Sometimes, the film may show that a player is completely out of their element at a certain position. When that happens, moves happen in the lineup and depth chart.


This season, the Cougar football team is young. Many of the players that will now be starters are also inexperienced as starters at the varsity level, mainly since the recently graduated senior class left huge gaps in the starting lineup. Players with two or three years of varsity starting experience take time to replace.

David Gravely/SWT Cougar Head Coach Mark Dixon gives some last second instruction to quarterback Cam Cooper Friday against Christiansburg.


On top of losing so many experienced seniors to graduation, many of those were members of the offensive front. This forces Head Coach Mark Dixon and his staff to start fresh with many new faces in a spot that Dixon takes a great amount of interest in. Without a solid and effective offensive front, producing any amount of offense becomes very difficult. They’ll improve as the season moves along.


After watching the scrimmage Friday, it is very clear that this season is going to be a rebuilding one for Pulaski County. That doesn’t mean that the Cougars won’t find success in 2021. It will be a surprise if Pulaski County doesn’t find some wins along the way as they learn and grow.


The schedule is going to be a tough one. The Cougars will travel to Lord Botetourt High School this coming Friday for a three-way scrimmage with them and Jefferson Forest. Coach Jamie Harless took Lord Botetourt to the state title game last season, where they lost to Lafayette 27-13. With a 9-1 record, it was their only loss of the season. Jefferson Forest had a tough season fighting COVID-19 almost more than opponents. They finished 1-3, but are expected to be strong again this season.


Both teams will likely be much better than Christiansburg, who showed a lot of improvement in the scrimmage themselves. We’ll see the Blue Demons again Nov. 5 in the final game of the regular season.


The first game of the regular season will find the Cougars at Northside. They will be good. September 3 will find the Cougars on the road against a new opponent, Tennessee High. The Vikings, which are located in Bristol, Tennessee, are members of Group 5A, Region 1. During the COVID-19 season, they ended their season with a record of 6-5.


They had wins over Daniel Boone, Halls (Knoxville), Morristown-Hamblen East, Volunteer (Church Hill), Cocke County, and Cherokee High School. They had losses to Dobyns-Bennett, Virginia High School (a forfeit), David Crockett, Sullivan South and a loss to Halls in a playoff rematch that ended 22-15.


The Cougars will host a familiar opponent when the return to the Cougar Den to host Bluefield Sept. 10. Cave Spring will visit the following week. A trip to Roanoke to play Hidden Valley is up next, followed by a home game against Salem Oct. 8. A road game against Blacksburg will be followed by a home game against Graham. Patrick Henry will be an away game Oct. 29.


We will be young. That is not going to change. We are starting out with a level of inexperience. That will change. The Cougars will not be world beaters this season, but they will have the ability to earn some wins and, with a little luck, may shock a few teams along the way.


“Success” will be judged somewhat differently this season. Yes, wins will matter. They always will matter. The biggest success this Cougar football team will be able to earn this season is to grow and improve, individually and as a team, each week.


That improvement has already begun. While the Cougars looked rough, there was improvement as the evening went on. The scrimmage was a solid day of work for both teams. Christiansburg will win more games this season than they have in recent seasons. When the two teams began playing under game conditions with a running clock and chains, the Cougars looked a bit better.


Christiansburg scored and Pulaski County didn’t. While you want to avoid that as often as possible, it doesn’t matter as much as what will happen when the two teams meet again Nov. 5.


The coaches have been busy breaking down the film. Adjustments will be made. Fans should expect to see a better performance on the field this coming Friday.


The scrimmage is set to begin at 6 p.m. Friday at Lord Botetourt High School.



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