Leader Blues

Thursday, October 11, 2007

SPORTS >>Devils trying to regain passion

By RAY BENTON
Leader sports editor

Maybe under normal circumstances, Jacksonville would be brimming with confidence as it prepares to face an 0-6 team that has lost its last two games by a combined 92-0. This week is anything but normal, though. The Red Devils are also fresh off an embarrassing loss to a team with which it usually plays very competitively, and usually beats.

The Red Devils’ 35-13 loss to Sylvan Hills last week has them fully aware that they can’t overlook anyone.

“We just got our tails totally whipped Friday,” Jacksonville coach Mark Whatley said. “That gives you plenty to worry about. We’re going to have to go out and play with some passion again like we did the previous two weeks.”

Sylvan Hills blitzed like mad men against Jacksonville, and it worked perfectly. When the Red Devils were able to complete a pass, many times there was nowhere to go after the catch. Whatley was hesitant to take anything away from Sylvan Hills, but believes failures in many departments by his team aided the Bears’ cause.

“It comes down to they executed their game plan better than we executed ours,” Whatley said. “But id we do what we’re supposed to do, we don’t have all the problems we had. We mis-declared a front all night long and that freed a guy we couldn’t account for. We had some hot reads called that if we had hit ‘em they could’ve been big plays for us. We have to block on the perimeter, get blocks down field, we just have to execute and a lot of those problems will go away.”

Knowing what to correct and executing those corrections on Friday night are two different things. Whatley expects Searcy to mimic Sylvan Hills until his team can prove it can handle the pressure.

“I expect teams to try and bring the heat,” Whatley said. “I would if I had watched tape of that game. But if we do the things we’re supposed to, we can handle it.”

Depth continues to be a struggle for the Red Devils. It was worse for some reason last week, so steps will be taken to remedy that problem as well.

“We’re going to try to play even more,” Whatley said. “Especially our skill people. We were spent before the game started it seemed like. We’re going to have to have more people playing and rest people more.”

Searcy’s record indicates little to be concerned with, but the Lions have played a couple of good teams close this season, and do some things very well. Whatley didn’t have to hesitate when asked about problems the Lions present.

“Technique-wise they do what they are supposed to do,” Whatley said. “The defensive ends do a good job of squeezing and making things bounce to the corner. Offensive line is not bad, they come off low and hard and we’ll have to match that.”

Jacksonville was unable to get anyone but tailback Patrick Geans involved in the offense last week. Some of that had to do with execution, some had to do with the competitiveness, according to Whatley.

“There are other players we’d like to get the ball to,” Whatley said. “We’d love for No. 4 (Stanley Appleby) to have the ball in space, we just aren’t executing the way we need to in order for that to happen. Some of it just has to do with the fact that No. 2 (Geans) is a tremendous competitor. He plays full speed on every down. If we can everybody playing at that level, we’d have better results.”