Jonesboro-Hodge Tigers hope to enjoy the sweet taste of victory for the second time in just six days when they host Class 5A Pineville this Thursday evening at Caldwell-Peacock Stadium. Game time is set for 7:00pm.
The contest was tabbed for a Thursday date instead of the normal Friday night venue per an order handed down by the Director of the Louisiana High School Officials Association Monroe District.
“Due to a shortage of referees in the Monroe District, almost every school in the area was required to play a game on Thursday this year ” said JHHS head coach Terrance Blankenship. “We were told by the Director at the beginning of the year that we were going to have to play either week two or week five on Thursday, so instead of playing our first home game of the year on Thursday, we chose the Pineville game.”
As it turns out it looks like the short turnaround couldn’t have come at a better time for the Tigers. Bouyed by their 30-26 season first victory over Lincoln Prep last week, that broke the three game season opening losing streak, the team enters the contest motivated and confident.q
“Getting ready to play on a short week is difficult as it takes you out of your normal routine,” reflected Blankenship. “Adjustments have to be made with everything from the practice schedule to getting mentally and physically prepared to play a day early. It makes it a little easier coming off a win though as the memory is one day fresher in our minds. ”
For visiting Pineville the challenge of the Thursday evening contest is just as difficult if not more. First of all the Rebels are still searching for their first win of the season after losing to a pair of Class 2A teams in Winnfield 33-6, and Menard 32-13 to open the season and then falling to Class 4A Tioga 41-7 and Class 5A Barbe 42-0 last week. Then there is always the bane of being the visiting team on a short week – having to make unusual travel arrangements.
While Coach Blankenship knows that Pineville has gotten the short end of the proverbial stick so far and that it is harder to hit the road for these kind of contests he cautions that it will take the Tigers best effort of the year to win this one.
“I guarantee you that the Pineville coaching staff and players have circled this game as a must win,” said Blankenship. “They enter district play next week and if they don’t get this one they might not win one all season. We are going to have to play better than we have so far.”
Injury Report: The Tigers will be without a key offensive performer this Thursday in Jason Blackburn. According to Coach Blankenship, the explosive freshman who played a key role in the Tigers victory this past Friday, severely turned his ankle in practice and will be out for at least a couple of weeks.
“It hurts that Jason went down as he was just now really starting to come into his own,” said Blankenship. “The rest of our backs are going to have to be ready for more extended work.”
Keys to victory!
Cut down on turnovers – The Tigers have turned the ball over 12 times in just the last two games compared to 15 all season last year. Even if JHHS had a juggernaut offense, which they don’t, it is impossible to overcome so many mistakes. Can’t hardly expect the Tigers to go turnover free but if they could limit the miscues to a minimum it would give them a better chance.
Establish a passing attack – The Tigers are averaging less than 100 yards per game through the air and have thrown 8 interceptions compared to four touchdowns, with three of those coming in the second half against Bunkie. For the first time all season a new QB won’t be starting. It is imperative that the Tigers improve in this area.
Defend the pass: This has also been a glaring weakness of the Tigers this season. Granted the secondary is inexperienced but they have to defend better if JHHS has a chance to win this one. All to often opponent receivers roam free in the secondary and when the Tigers have had a chance to make a play, they haven’t been able to capitalize. The secondary can’t get beat like they have so far.
Keys to victory: