SHS Tigers lose opener

by | August 31, 2011 9:10 am

by TROUP BRINSON

   The Swainsboro Tigers trailed 28-0 at halftime and never posed a

serious threat as they were beaten thoroughly in the season opener,

24-13.  

   It was just a strange night for Tiger Nation.  Rarely have the

black and gold been in a situation like this.   First games can

often times lack the sharpness and rhythm that teams develop into

the season.  They looked unsure and out of position.  They

over-pursued and left receivers wide open.  They didn’t block well

or tackle well.  They just never seemed to be able to get out of

their own way long enough to gain any type of momentum. 

   It seemed in the blink of an eye, Swainsboro was down big to a

team that was not going to beat themselves and executed offensively

and defensively on a level far above the Tigers. Nothing flashy

happened.  ECI just played better fundamental football and the

Tigers looked like they were still in preseason mode.

   “We just got too far behind too early,” said Tigers head coach

David Johnson.  “We had players at key positions make too many

mistakes.”

   For a running team like Swainsboro, large deficits pose a

problem.  It takes prolonged execution and extended drives to

impose their will and break down another team.  Those things just

didn’t happen on Friday night.

   ECI’s Wezley Ealey scored twice in the 1st quarter to set the

tone.  But it was the 37 yard touchdown pass with 7 seconds to go

in the half over a confused defensive back that put the early nail

into the coffin.  Even down three touchdowns one felt that the

Tigers had the fire power to right the ship in the second half. 

But four touchdowns slammed the door shut as fans looked on in

disbelief.

   Quan Gardner and Jemerico Bell never were able to get on track. 

Gardner had 52 yards rushing on 12 attempts and showed flashes of

brilliance.  But Bell couldn’t find any running lanes and netted

only 10 yards on 6 attempts.  New Tigers QB Shaquille Cowart

likewise found the going tough with 22 yards on 7 carries.  He did

not complete a pass.  Deantae Johnson broke off a 73 yard touchdown

as time expired in the fourth quarter for his only carry.  DeWan

Somerville actually looked like the running back with the best idea

of what he wanted to do and where he was going with 6 carries for

41 yards.  But far too often, defenders were not blocked at the

point of attach and rarely blocked on the second level to provide

much space for Tiger runners.

   Coach Johnson was ready to get back to the grindstone and put

this game behind them as soon as the clock read zero.

   “We need leaders to step up,” said Johnson.  “The team knows

that we have a lot of work to do, but we WILL get better.”  

   To be honest, the Tigers looked a little lost in the opener in

2010 as well.  Many of the same mistakes and missteps seemed to

abound as they struggled to find rhythm in the season opener. 

After all, a first game is just a starting point and it’s certainly

not unusual to look discombobulated early in the season.  But the

Tigers leaned on senior QB Lynquez Blair last season to pull the

game out.  After that, things started to roll for the black and

gold.  Hopefully, senior QB Cowart can provide that leadership as

the season progresses and be a dependable signal caller for the

Tigers.  

   Swainsboro has no time to lick feel sorry for themselves as they

have another big road test Friday night. Vidalia is a very good

team coming off of a 42-0 thumping of Treutlen County and expects

to be one of the top teams in region 2AA.

   Around region 3AA, Jefferson County lost to AAA Washington

County 28-17.  Dublin beat Toombs County 50-16.   Laney lost 24-16

to Strom Thurmond.  

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