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A confident Bulldog squad plans to take the field this week as they host Independence. Coming off of last week’s 33-12 showing, the improving defense will again have their hands full, as Independence runs a spread offense that has hurt the ‘Dawgs defensive unit so far this season.
“Their offensive line appears to be pretty good, and you can tell they’re very well coached. If they get an open space, they can take the ball to the end zone, and they run a lot of slip screens and real quick screens,” NAHS head coach Ron Price said. “If they’ve seen us play the last few games, they’ll probably use that to their advantage because we’ve had a problem stopping the screen against Corinth and Baldwyn, so I think they’re excited to see that on film. We’ve really prepared for that this week.”
Defense was an area that Price and his staff originally felt would be ahead of the offense, but despite some of their earlier performances, the group has shown improvement, bringing more confidence to the team.
“We’re very proud of our defense. As we’ve played a few games, we’ve seen that our offense has clicked a little faster than our defense, but the last few games they have gotten better. We had a shut out through about midway in the third quarter last week, so our kids confidences are up,” Price explained.
Two kids in particular, Jullian Mitchell and Kelvin Worship have impressed the staff, earning top honors among the team.
“They were our defensive linemen of the week two weeks ago versus Corinth, and Jullian was our lineman of the week against Baldwyn, so those guys have been a big surprise for us and have done very well since they’ve been given the opportunity,” Price said of the duo. “As our defensive secondary and linemen continue to get better, I think as we get closer to division play our defense will be where we need them to be.”
It has been good to see different players stepping up, as several Bulldogs are battling early injuries, with the biggest loss being senior Drew Davis. Both Wade Simmons and Adrian Gamble each were banged up against the Bearcats, but will be ready to go this Friday.
“Drew Davis is one of our main varsity guys down that we think we might get back in a couple of weeks. Time is the only thing that’s going to help them to heal, but hopefully we’ll get Drew back, and we need him back,” Price said. “Adrian was a little banged up, but it’s the middle of the football season. Our kids are not used to this year round, and right now their bodies are not used to it, but I think we’ve trained during the offseason and our weight training and our conditioning program is helping them to recover faster than they would normally.”
Price also said that a majority of the ‘Dawgs sidelined with injuries are freshmen who are learning how to handle the beating they take each week.
“Their tough kids and they’ve responded well, and it’s just something that’s going to take place during the course of the season. It’s nothing major, but hopefully we can get through the next five or six weeks and continue to say the same thing.”
New Albany and Independence are set for a 7:30 p.m. kickoff at Kitchens’ Field.