On Thursday in Dyersburg, the Trojans had a chance to make a statement against No.3-ranked Covington. The highly anticipated matchup never delivered what many hoped it would. Dyersburg failed to reach the end zone and certainly has work to do in several areas to reach its full potential, but before we all get too excited, it was the second game of the season.
On Friday in Newbern, the No.10-ranked Choctaws also had an opportunity to make a strong district statement against North Side. Another much-anticipated matchup never materialized in this one either. The usual high-octane Choctaw offense never got on track, proving that they too have a lot of work to be done to get to where they wish to go. However, before the boo birds start to fly, it was just the third game of the season.
Over the past few days, many have expressed their displeasure with this or that concerning the losses. Perhaps some were attempting to bait me into an all-out blitz full of finger-pointing and blame, but sometimes it's better to listen than it is to speak.
As I listened to those wishing to vent over the subpar performances, I felt the words coming to my fingertips faster than a beaver building a dam on "Duck Dynasty."
Today we return to the days of calling it the way I saw it, so to speak.
At the Trojan game on Thursday, I was impressed with Dyersburg for the entire first half. Sure there were mistakes made and too many penalties committed, but defensively the Trojans gave the Chargers all they wanted. The offense sputtered, but playing a talented and experienced foe, things weren't going to be easy.
When Evan Walden booted a 31-yard field goal as time expired to end the first half, it capped off a pretty good half of football by both teams.
The final two quarters however left a lot to be desired.
The Trojans were gassed at the end of the second quarter and the 20-minute break at the half wasn't long enough to refill the tank.
When Covington finally scored in the third quarter, the subsequent bickering and helmet tossing by a few of the Trojan members shouldn't be tolerated by anyone, especially head coach Bart Stowe. It's a privilege to wear the Black and Gold uniform, not a right. Seriously, Covington only led 7-3, but looking at the sidelines one would think they were ahead 35-0.
The squad needs to understand that they're not going to lead every game from start to finish. When faced with a little adversity on Thursday, the squad didn't handle it very well. However, there is nothing that happened that can't be corrected with positive leadership. The players want to win, the coaches want to win, and believe me the community wants to see them win too.
The Trojans have a pretty decent football team but Covington was simply better. Not a lot better, and certainly not 17 points better either. Dyersburg can get a lot better but the team must undergo better conditioning efforts in order to last four quarters with the big boys. I believe with everything I have that it can be accomplished through hard work and dedication. The squad is 1-1, not 1-7 so there's no need to panic. Get back to work and become all you can be instead of pointing fingers at each other over the small stuff. In the grand scheme of things it's all small stuff. Respect the game, respect yourselves and respect the ones paying $5 to come sit in the stands wanting to see you do well.
At the Choctaw contest on Friday, the squad seemed flatter than I've seen in a long time. I figured after a thrilling double-overtime win against Liberty a week earlier, all systems were set on go for the district opener against North Side. I was wrong.
Someone absolutely forgot to hit the start button on the Choctaw locomotive so many have become accustomed to, and the Indians took full advantage of the stalled engine.
Other than a sweet Austin Richardson interception and a nice scrambling run for a touchdown from quarterback Tucker Cozort, there really were no show-stopping highlights to speak of.
But that's high school football. Some games will be thrillers and some will drag on, but with a 2-0 mark and a legitimate chance to go to 3-0, the Choctaws appeared uninspired.
Give North Side a lot of credit for that, though. I mean they have a talented, senior-laden team led by a quarterback in Adam Craig. He seems to have been there as long as I've been here.
The DC effort wasn't terrible by any means, but an effort to use all the horses in the barn may have proved beneficial when other things weren't working out too well.
Overall, there are lessons to be learned by both squads. Hopefully, losing a game early in the season will only benefit both squads the rest of the year. The respective coaching staffs are very capable of correcting what needs to be corrected.
Today I don't think there is any question that both Dyer County and Dyersburg will have winning seasons. Any loss is a tough one, but it's how a team responds that shows their true character.
Hopefully the response will be with a couple of wins this week. I know both squads are ready to put last week behind them, and so are we, but we all need to remember it's early and there is a lot of football left for both teams.
See you on the sideline.
Your comments are welcome at msmith@ stategazette.com