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Wildcat football season starts sour

POSTED: August 30, 2014 10:00 a.m.
Adam Wynn/Barrow County News

Apalachee receiver Ricky Wozon goes to the ground during the Aug. 15 scrimmage against Monroe. Wozon was injured against Woodland.

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After building plenty of momentum in the preseason and summer workouts, Apalachee football hit an early season speed bump by dropping Friday’s regular season opener 48-26 at Woodland in Stockbridge.

“Well, it’s not good,” Apalachee head football coach Shane Davis said, remarking on how much Apalachee’s momentum could take a hit with the loss. “You want to win them all…and you put a lot of eggs in your basket for that first game and everybody wants to start off on a good foot and we didn’t.

“I haven’t watched the film yet, but before I even watch it, I know we didn’t play well and we got beat. At least tonight, for what it appears, we got beat by a better football team,” Davis added. “They were big, they were physical and it was just not our night.”

The Wildcats hoped coming in that running back Dalton Bales would feature prominently in the landscape of Friday’s contest, and he did to an extent, but not quite to the level that Apalachee needed him to as the game wore on. 

According to Davis, Apalachee’s running game was uneven at best.

“I think Dalton had a good night. Dalton ran the ball hard, he always does, but his runs came in patches,” Davis said, indicating that the lack of running had more to do with the overall team performance than any one player’s ability to move the ball.

Apalachee scored 26 points Friday night, their highest total since the 2012 win over Winder-Barrow in which the Wildcats put 42 points on the board. The Cats never eclipsed 21 points in 2013, making Friday’s total look promising for the future, but the full story rubs a little bit of the shine off of Apalachee’s score total in a manner of speaking.

Wildcat Kyle Jackson snagged an interception in the second half and carried the ball back down to Woodland’s 3-yard line, setting up an Alantae Billings touchdown on the next play. 

Later on, Ricky Wozon found himself with the ball on defense through a blown Woodland play and carried the ball all the way back to the end zone for what Davis considered to be the first of two defensive scores for Apalachee, even though the interception was still technically an offensive score.

“Offensively I never thought we got into a rhythm,” Davis admitted. “A lot of those points came from the defensive side, but I will take them; 26 points is still 26 points.”

Even still, the defense scoring points will not be enough for Apalachee to have an improved 2014 season as they will need added offensive production and they will need the defense to hold opponents to a more manageable margin.

“We won’t win a game all year if the other team’s got 48 points,” Davis stated.

The Wildcats held a close score at the half with Woodland up just 20-12 going into the locker room, but the Wolfpack came out in the second half and managed to move the ball effectively against a beleaguered Wildcat defense.

“It got away there in the middle. It started before half time and then continued into the second half,” Davis said. “We just couldn’t stop it. When they were on offense, they were doing what they wanted to do at will against us.”

After the Billings run for a touchdown and a defensive stop, Jackson would take a carry in to make the game a two-score affair at 40-26, but the Woodland offense could not be stymied for long as they would go on to add another touchdown to the board and ice the game pretty much from then on.

Wozon suffered an ankle injury early in the game which forced Apalachee to make some strange adjustments as the fourth quarter approached. As a result, Billings found time at quarterback, running back and wide receiver. 

Although Davis had no official word on Wozon’s injuries, he did acknowledge that the injury seemed serious and would prevent the receiver from seeing much time. 

“It’s not good,” Davis said of the injury. “It seems to be pretty significant.”

With a daunting region schedule ahead for the Wildcats, Apalachee will need to shake off the dust and get back to work immediately. For Davis, Monday’s practice will be a vital indicator as to what this football team can expect in the next nine games.

“I hope when we go back and watch the film that there can be some positive things…and we’ll be able to tell Monday what kind of season we can expect from here on out,” Davis noted. “I’m not talking about wins and losses. It was a humbling, humiliating defeat and we’ve got to grow up and toughen up. That’s everybody from me on down to the last ninth grader on our staff.

“We’ll see a lot about what their mindset is going to be at practice on Monday,” Davis added. “The outcome will be the same, but their mindset will say a lot about where we are right now and where we’re going to try to go.”

When asked to expound on his statement about Monday’s practice, Davis had one comment to add.

“I hope I’m seeing a group of kids who are sick and tired of shooting ourselves in the foot and making mental mistakes and not doing things that are putting us in a position to win the games,” Davis explained. 

“If we lose to a team that’s better than us, we lose to a team that’s better than us. That’s football and that’s life, but I do not want a team that is going to put us in a position where we’re not allowing ourselves the opportunity to be successful.”

Apalachee will continue their three-game road stretch by making the short drive to Winder-Barrow for the 11th annual Battle of Barrow next Friday night. The Bulldoggs also lost their season opener Friday night, but both teams have to start worrying about the region schedule more than that first defeat.

 

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