West looks to end slide on homecoming vs. Science Hill
Morristown West isn’t accustomed to giving up 40 points in a game, let alone two weeks in a row.
So this week, Trojans coach Lamar Brown and his staff have went back to basics with the team, including working on tackling to become a better defense.
“We changed our tackling circuits a little bit and added a couple things that we think will help us with a bigger back,” Brown said. “We’ve contacted a lot of sources to try to figure out how to get better at tackling big backs, and out kids have responded. They have had a good week of work. Now we just have to carry that over into Friday night.”
The tackling will need to be improved against a high-octane Science Hill squad that enters Burke-Toney Stadium on Friday ranked No. 7 in the Class 6A rankings.
The Hilltoppers are averaging 65 points per game, thanks in large part to a 90-21 rout of David Crockett last week. While the talk of many this week has centered on the 90 points scored last week, Brown said the focus at West has been about getting better in order to compete.
“We haven’t focused a whole lot on Science Hill’s 90 points this week,” Brown said. “It all starts with us. We know we have to get better before we can compete.”
The Science Hill offense goes as far as quarterback Malik McGue leads it. He ran for more than 250 yards and five touchdowns, tossed two more and nearly returned a punt for a score last week. Those are good stats for any player, and McGue did it all in one half of play.
“They have a lot of athletes all over the field, and they are big up front,” Brown said. “When you put athletes behind that kind of offensive line, it’s a daunting task for a defense. They scored 76 points last week in the first half, and McGue had 250 yards rushing and five touchdowns in the first half.
“It’s not just him though. They have athletic running backs and a big back that they use who is about 230 pounds. They have big, tall wide receivers and playmakers all over the field.”
In addition to tackling better on defense, Brown said a big key in their chances to win lies in the Trojan offense’s ability to drive the football with consistency.
“We have to be able to move the ball right now offensively for us to win,” Brown said. “Our offense had a good night at Cherokee, but not a great night. We had a couple opportunities to make big plays that we didn’t make. For us to win, when we have a chance to make a big play, we have to make it.”
After losses to Greeneville and Cherokee, Brown was eager to see how his team would respond in practice this week, and he has liked the results on the practice field.
“Our kids have responded this week and worked really hard, and I think the last couple weeks have brought this team closer together,” Brown said. “They know right now that they are the only bunch that can make us better, and they have went to work and shown that.
“I expect us to play really hard, and I think this team has a chip on its shoulders right now. This team has worked hard and focused on the smallest of details to get better. That’s the thing we have struggled with, the small things. That’s what makes you a good football team, and that is what we have focused on.”
Science Hill holds an 8-2 advantage in the all-time series with the Trojans, including a 41-27 win at Steve Spurrier Field in Johnson City last year. Kickoff of the West homecoming game at Burke-Toney Stadium Friday is set for 7:30 p.m.
-By Matt Daniels, Tribune Sports Editor