Sports

September 27, 2013

Ready to take a step forward

Bruins aim for fourth victory, momentum

Northwest Whitfield High School football coach Josh Robinson hopes each game brings improvement from the last.

Can game No. 4 be better than game No. 3 for the Bruins?

River Ridge sure hopes not.

The Bruins (3-0) host the Knights (1-3) tonight in a matchup of Region 7-4A teams from different sub-regions. Both sub-regions begin their schedules next week — River Ridge is in 7A-4A, Northwest is in 7B-4A — so this is their last chance to grab momentum on the field before the games that will shape their postseason destiny.

In other games involving local teams tonight, Christian Heritage is at Mount Zion-Carroll, Coahulla Creek is at Cartersville, Dalton is at Cass, Murray County hosts Chattooga, North Murray welcomes Sonora-ville and Southeast Whitfield takes on visiting Cedartown. All kickoffs are at 7:30 p.m.

While league play is a week away, Robinson sees value in tonight’s game — just as he does every week.

“You can say it doesn’t matter but that isn’t totally true,” Robinson said. “You want to build momentum and confidence in your kids. You shouldn’t play as good a game No. 5 as you do in game No. 10, but it should be closer.”

Last week at Cass, the Bruins played about as perfect a first quarter as they could and were up 31-0 during the second period. But their halftime lead was 38-21 and they had trouble pulling away against the Col-onels, although they ultimately won 52-35. Likewise, Northwest benefited from seven turnovers but gave up five. Not surprisingly, Robinson found his team’s consistency lacking.

River Ridge is consistent in at least one regard. For the second straight season, the Knights have started 1-3.

They lost to Northwest last season before winning four straight in sub-region play to grab a spot in the region championship game against Ridgeland.

“They seem to be a team that grows as the season goes on,” Robinson said.

River Ridge earned its first victory of the season last week against struggling LaFay-ette, which has been outscored 125-35.

Robinson said the Knights’ offense is quite basic, despite a lot of pre-snap movement and formation shifts.

“It’s running the ball straight ahead,” he said. “For old-time football lovers, it’s kind of a wishbone-esque team. ... Really they are just doing all of that to run right at you. Defensively, they showed several different things. They did a 3-3 stack against LaFay-ette’s spread. I expect them to do something similar against us.

“It’s a defense that has come around more to neutralize the spread.”

River Ridge coach Robert Braught said his team practices “fast” each day, and it will help the Knights as try to defend the fast tempo style of Northwest, which runs a no-huddle spread offense and plays in hurry-up mode most of the time.

Even if that’s an advantage some teams might not have against Northwest, Braught the Knights still must avoid “turnovers and mental letdowns” to have a chance to win because he believes the Bruins have too much talent to let opponents away with such mistakes.

“All of the players jump out at you,” he said. “Coach Robinson and his staff have done a great job putting the right players in the correct positions.”

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