From Staff Reports
While it's not quite on the same chaotic level as the crisis on Wall Street, the 2008 football season at Mt. Zion High School has featured its share of peaks and valleys.
The Bulldogs (3-2, 2-1) looked like football tycoons following their impressive 30-16 upset win over Griffin on Sept. 19. But after being blanked 23-0 last Saturday against North Clayton, they appeared as empty as the gas stations that surround the school's campus.
However, when Mt. Zion takes the field at Stockbridge (1-4, 0-3) tonight in a Region 4-AAAA clash, they hope to recoup from their loss behind a solid investment in the basic fundamentals of blocking up front, reading keys and eliminating turnovers, which should lead to huge long-term dividends in the standings.
Throughout practice this week, Mt. Zion's head coach Jarrett Laws has been preaching to his players the sermon of 'S.A.K.R.A.T.', which stands for Stance, Assignments, Key, Read, Assignment and Technique. S.A.K.R.A.T stresses knowing one's position on the field and being in the right place at the right time in order to make the necessary plays to become a more successful football team.
"The most effective tool is when you let the kids look in the mirror and have to face their peers," said Laws. "Every day this week, all you hear is S.A.K.R.A.T., S.A.K.R.A.T., S.A.K.R.A.T. They know if they don't take care of the basics, no matter what plays we draw up, they're still going to get their tails whipped."
Stockbridge Still Has A Lot to Learn
It was clear to Stockbridge coach Don Vandygriff during an intrasquad scrimmage in early August that his team had a lot to learn.
The scrimmage was littered with dropped passes, fumbles by running backs, missed blocks on the offensive line and penalties. There was a comfort to Vandygriff then in the fact that it was a scrimmage, not a real game, and there was time to correct the mistakes.
But all those problems still seem to ail Stockbridge (1-4, 0-3 in Region 4B-AAAA) as it gets set to play Mt. Zion tonight in the Southern Crescent Game of the Week.
Vandygriff said his team's travails this season have been a symptom of its youth. Vandygriff inherited only four players with starting experience in his first season as a head coach: Wide receivers Kevin Burke and Isaiah Johnson, and linebackers Tim Lawrence and Thad Rachel.
"The youth probably showed out," Vandygriff said. "We just haven't been able to get everyone on the same path. When you replace a whole offensive line and quarterback, it starts to affect your football team and you don't do the things that they' been used to doing."
The offensive line's inexperience has manifested in poor blocking and a stagnant rushing attack. The team's overall inexperience has made Stockbridge prone to giving up big plays on defense and making costly turnovers on offense.
"I think anytime you take on a program that loses 26 seniors, you realize that there's going to be rebuilding," Vandygriff said. "One thing you can bet is that you learn from each game in what direction you want to go with your team."