With the game being played a day earlier than most — due to the Columbus schools sharing a pair of stadiums — the Tigers (1-2, 1-0 Region 5-AA) will take on Kendrick (0-3, 0-1) in the third different stadium in as many years.
Because the game is being played a day earlier, preparation has to be compressed and altered from a normal game week.
“It makes it tough. Any time you get out of your routine with high school kids, it definitely presents some challenges. Especially with the weather being the way it is [Monday] and [Tuesday]. There’s a sense of urgency because we play on a Thursday. We’ve had to bump everything up a day and your normal Monday is not a normal Monday,” Temple coach Seth Rogers said.
Even though the Tigers are working on a day less of practice, they have two things going for them — so are their opponents and Temple is coming off its first win of the season. The Tigers picked up the 25-16 win against Jordan on Friday, giving them some momentum heading into Thursday’s game.
“We felt like last week was a step in the right direction. We didn’t do everything the way we wanted to do it. Obviously, we felt like we could have played better, but we got a win and that’s what we’re trying to do this week. Whatever it takes to get a ‘W,’ and the kids have bought into that,” Rogers said.
Last season the Tigers knocked off Kendrick, 20-12, to open region play — in Memorial Stadium — in a downpour. There are some different players for both sides, including 15 starters gone from Temple’s roster, but the Tiger coach knows there is still plenty to take away from last year’s contest.
“We’ve got some guys that played in the game and we know it’s going to be a tough ball game. They’ve played us close every year and they played Bowdon tough last week. They’re a good football team. They’ve got a lot more seniors and juniors than what they’ve had in the past,” Rogers said.
The Cherokees base out of the Wishbone offensively and are a run-oriented team behind a big, strong offensive line. Size and speed are also trademarks of the Kendrick defense that will challenge the Tiger offense — especially without senior wing back Myles Simmons, who will have to sit out Thursday night after being ejected in last week’s win.
What it will come down to is execution. Rogers noted that even in last week’s win there were still things they want to improve on and one of those things is playing a complete game with limited mistakes.
“You watch enough football, you know the team that makes the least mistakes wins the football game and we cannot continue to make mistakes. You watch Kendrick against Bowdon last week, Bowdon made less mistakes than Kendrick and won the football game. I expect a game for four quarters, and I just expect us to play our best,” Rogers said.
A win would put the Tigers at 2-0 in the region and keep them atop the Region 5-AA standings for another week, but that’s not the focus. Playoff teams aren’t determined in September and Rogers wants his team to take it week-by-week.
“It would be great. It’s the same thing I said last week — at 2-0 you’re tied for first in the region. It’s the same message I preach to the kids. Nothing is won or lost on Thursday — you’re not going to win the region on Thursday and you’re not going to finish out of the playoffs. Thursday is just another opportunity for us to get better and another opportunity to reach our goals,” Rogers said.