The St. James football team returns to their home turf on Friday when they host Perryville. The Tigers are looking to bounce back from a tough week one loss to Salem, while Perryville is fresh off a muddy 6-3 loss to Desoto.
St. James head coach Josh Rodriguez and his team has had a chance to take a look at the film from their game against Salem and his first reaction was simple: they have to get out to a better start.
"Well we need to get off to a better start. We struggled right out of the gate to be aggressive and that cost us on the first drive on offense and defense," said coach Rodriguez. "I think we settled down from there, but I think this week we're going to need to concentrate on getting out to a good start. Other than that, it's mainly doing the little things of catching the ball, finishing blocks and holding on to the stinking thing."
Perryville should make for an interesting matchup for St. James as both teams have a ton of speed. Perryville is a bit of an unknown commodity because they have a lot of new faces and didn't necessarily get to play the way they'd like to in a muddy game last week.
"Well they do have some speed. They lost a lot from last year, they do have a lot of young kids playing, but they have a lot of quality looking kids that I think are going to give us issues out in space," said coach Rodriguez. "They can stretch the field a little bit, they've switched things up to more of a spread look to try to stretch us sideline to sideline, but they do have some nice speed in skill spots and the quarterback can run a little bit, so we'll have our hands full.
"It was tough to see exactly what they were wanting to do," continued coach Rodriguez about what he's seen from his film on Perryville. "They were in a spread look, running jet sweeps and quarterback counters, but that's kind of a break from their tradition. Last year, they were a heavy flex-bone and a lot of option and power tosses. We'll have to prepare for both."
St. James struggled to find consistency in the passing game last week, but they'll need to get into a rhythm this week against Perryville. The Pirates like to load up against the run game, which should leave some opportunities for St. James in the passing game if they can connect on some passes.
"Well they're very consistent with their aggressiveness and stacking the box and making you throw," said the St. James head coach. "Even against spread teams, they will bring seven people in the box and bring different people and different looks and try to outnumber you in the box. We'll have to be very efficient with our blocking and making sure we can get the ball out on time to take advantage of what the defense gives us."
Coach Rodriguez isn't too worried about his quarterback, Tate Whitener, despite some issues week one. With another week of preparation and more reps under his belt, the St. James quarterback should be able to take a step in the right direction against Perryville.
"We just need to keep giving him reps. His bigger issues are just the little things that make him either overthrow or have a false read," said coach Rodriguez. "He just doesn't need to overthink things. Football is pretty simple: throw to the open guy and don't give it to the other team."
Coach Rodriguez also thinks that getting to play in front of their home crowd for the first time this season will be a good boost for his Tigers.
"It's always good to play at home. There's a pride factor that you don't want to let your town down and having the crowd behind you really pumps you up, gives you a little bit more energy than you would if you're on the road," said the St. James head coach. "I think the guys are excited to play at home. That's their stadium and they want to defend it and have pride in it."