By Jeremy McDonald
GERVAIS, Ore.– The second half off Friday’s Homecoming Night wasn’t up to snuff, up to the standards of the new look Gervais Cougars Football team.
After building a 16-14 halftime lead with a very strong first quarter, the offense sputtered and Willamina rallied for the 23-16 win.
So, coming out to practice Monday, Head Coach Josh Crawford and company are using that first quarter as a point of emphasis for their PacWest Match-up versus a tough, passing offense of Salem Academy.
“We’re going to focus on stressing what we did in the first quarter,” “The first quarter was ours, we dominated the first quarter. They didn’t move the ball on us, we moved the ball with ease.
“We’re going to focus on, the coaches are going to stress on what we did in the first quarter more than what we did for the rest of the game and trying to make a four quarter, first quarter in our game this week.”
During practice they focused on different defensive fronts so that they can combat the Crusaders passing game, which they do about 70 to 75 percent of the time, and shutting down star receiver Skyler Williams.
“Just play with heart and play through every down,” said River Moss on shutting down SA’s passing game. “Every time someone wraps the guy, we need to swarm there and just take care of business.”
As for the young secondary of the Cougars, it’s all about reps against the passing game.
“More reps,” said Crawford. “Our secondary is super young. So more reps, more reps and more reps. Every other team has been a run team we’ve played so we’ve played on stopping the run, this week is the totally opposite.”
Sitting in fourth in the PacWest, there’s a sense that the surging Gervais team can make a push for the playoffs, something that hasn’t been done in a long, long time; and the team knows that the ball is in their court as they look compete with the Crusaders, the Blanchets, etc of the conference.
“Forget what happen last week and work harder than we ever worked this week so we can finish our season off and hopefully make playoffs,” said Moss.
There’s excitement for sure for what’s to come Friday for the team’s next big test.
“Good, I’m real excited,” said Crawford. “Especially since we’ve get them here this year. Last year we had to go down there to play them and now we get them here.
“We haven’t won here yet. Every other week, we got a win and this week, if it follows suit and the kids play tough; hopefully it falls suit.”
Gametime is 7pm at Gervais High School.
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Few pictures from practice (Pictures by Jeremy McDonald)