Wildcats hope for more complete performance in home opener

By NICHOLAS SULLIVAN
Posted 9/11/20

Woodland head coach Tony Plott was forced to sweat more during last week's season opener than he would have liked. Despite controlling the game virtually from start to finish, the Wildcats held just …

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Wildcats hope for more complete performance in home opener

Posted

Woodland head coach Tony Plott was forced to sweat more during last week's season opener than he would have liked. Despite controlling the game virtually from start to finish, the Wildcats held just a 6-0 lead midway through the fourth quarter.

A late touchdown gave Woodland some breathing room for a 14-0 win over Gordon Central, but given how well the Wildcats played on defense, the final margin could have (and probably should have) been much wider.

There were some costly fumbles and a few untimely penalties that derailed drives — some deep inside Gordon Central territory — that kept Woodland from turning its dominance on the field into a healthy lead on the scoreboard.

"There's some things we're concerned about," Plott said Thursday. "We got inside the 10 twice and didn't score. We got inside the 20 another time and did not score. And then, we fumbled on something we thought could have resulted in a big play for us also.

"Those mistakes and sloppiness there is a major concern for us that we're going to clean up. Our kids have been reminded about that all week, as we've worked on those things. I feel like we left a lot of points on the field last week."

Woodland will hope to have those issues corrected this week, when the team makes its home debut against Osborne.

"I think they've responded very well," Plott said. "They are smart kids. They know we didn't play a clean football game, as in no mistakes. We've been working on cleaning it up, and I think it will be a big difference this week."

Despite some of the offensive woes in Week 1, Plott believes his team did an admirable job in its first truly competitive setting since last November.

"With the circumstances compared to years past, I thought we did well," he said. "Not having all the summer stuff we had — padded camps, 7-on-7s and then the scrimmage — that was really the first time they hit somebody else. That being said, I thought it went well. Obviously, I thought it could have been better, but they had the opportunity to hit someone in an opposite colored jersey and that was good for them."

The most pleasing thing Plott saw was the physicality of his players, which he said was much improved from last season's 1-9 campaign. It was particularly evident on the defensive side, where Woodland managed its first shutout since a 48-0 rout of Osborne (shockingly enough) on Sept. 12, 2008.

"The kids showed guts," Plott said. "They showed a toughness about them. It was a really physical game, and our kids didn't back down. That's been a trademark in the past of our teams, and we felt like we kind of fell off a little bit in that last year.

"It's been a focal point this year. We're going to be physical, and we're going to continue to take the fight to people. I think we did that last Friday on both sides of the ball."

Plott will hope for more of the same against Osborne. The Cardinals would seem to present a great opportunity for the Wildcats to move to 2-0 on the season.

Osborne hasn't won a game since Oct. 21, 2016 — a streak of 30 consecutive losses — and the program hasn't totaled more than three victories in a season since 1995.

Even still, Plott is certainly not overlooking his Cobb County foe.

"They are athletic, as always," he said. "They're going to have athletes that can hurt you on the field. They've gotten upgrades in facilities, uniforms and equipment. There's a lot of excitement around the program.

"They're dangerous; they're very dangerous."

With Osborne being idle the opening week and no team in the state allowed to hold a scrimmage, Plott and his staff have been forced to rely upon film from last season. Even though his opponent will have a fresher look at the Wildcats, Plott finds it to be a significant edge to have already played the first game of the season.

"There's no doubt about it," Plott said. "We're looking at it as a huge advantage, just because our kids have been through it already. It won't be new to them. Whereas their kids — even though most of them played last year — with it being a new season and everything going on, going out there for the first time is a little different. I'm glad we got that first one under our belts."