By Mark Clark
Losing late in games is getting to be a bad habit for the Russell County High Warriors football team. Warriors coach Dwight Jones would like to see his team break the habit, but he knows it will take more time.
The latest second-half loss came last Friday night at Harris County High in a 35-14 loss.
“Like in most of our games this season, we played a decent first half. We lost this one in the second half, again,” Jones said after the loss.
The Warriors, while not leading at the half, only trailed by seven points at 14-7.
Pint Lokey kept his team in the contest in the first half with an 8-yard run on a sweep play.
“We have a bunch of kids going both ways for us. Some of them are also on our special teams, so they have to play even more than some others. It is just reality for us to play well in the first half and not play well in the second half of games. The heat has been a factor, but we had heat timeouts each quarter and extended time between quarters that helped us give the guys some rest. That will not be happening the rest of the season. We just have to do what we can do to help the kids be able to play their best,” Jones said.
With so many players working on both sides of the football, fatigue sets in and that brings on hardships for the players both physically and mentally, according to Jones.
“The kids work really hard, but it is just a fact that when you get physically tired, you start making mental mistakes. Against Harris County, the kids played hard for about thirty-six minutes, but you need to be able to do that for forty-eight minutes to win games. We’ve played good for twenty-four to thirty-six minutes in most games,” Jones said.
A mistake by the Warriors – a fumble – gave Harris County the opportunity to score on a short field in the third quarter. The Tigers took advantage of the Russell County error and scored to lead 21-7.
The Warriors could have easily quit trying at that point, but Jones said his team responded to the mistake and got back into the game. Deandre Hartwell cut the Harris County lead to 21-14 with a 12-yard run on the power sweep. Carlos Sampedro, who made the first extra-point of the night for Russell County, was true on his kick once more after the touchdown.
“That was good to see, the second-half touchdown. The kids kept playing hard after the fumble,” Jones said.
Unfortunately, Harris County managed to score twice more in the game to make the final score 35-14.
Now, the Warriors must turn their attention to Sidney Lanier High of Montgomery – this Friday night’s opponent. The game will be played at the Mitchell Field in the Corbett Sports Complex with kickoff set for 8 p.m. ET. It is homecoming week for the Warriors. Sidney Lanier is 2-3 overall and 2-0 in Class 6A Region 2 play. The Poets have defeated both Eufaula and Park Crossing in the region and lost to R.E. Lee, Westlake and Jeff Davis in out of region games.
“When you play any Montgomery school, you are going to face really athletic talent. The have good skill players and fast defenses. It will be a challenge for us,” Jones said.