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Tigers look to continue improvement

Mundy’s Mill coaches say junior quarterback Rodricous Gates has made a lot of improvement since the start of the season. (Staff Photo: Derrick Mahone)

Mundy’s Mill coaches say junior quarterback Rodricous Gates has made a lot of improvement since the start of the season. (Staff Photo: Derrick Mahone)

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Coach Greg Manior says his team has given a big effort in every game despite the Tigers’ 0-4 record heading into tonight’s subregion opener against Mount Zion. (Staff Photo: Derrick Mahone)

JONESBORO — Mundy’s Mill quarterback Rodricous Gates and running back Rodney Smith might be finding their mojo at the right time.

With the Region 4-AAAAA, Div. A schedule starting tonight against Mount Zion, the two are starting to take control of the offense. The Tigers’ coaching staff points to last week’s game against McIntosh that the future is probably bright for the team.

Although the Tigers lost 28-27 last week at Twelve Oaks Stadium, they said they saw enough good things to see the team is headed in the right direction.

Gates was 11 of 21 for 219 yards and threw two touchdown passes while Smith rushed for 166 yards and two touchdowns on 21 carries, including an 80-yard scoring run. It is the second straight week that he has had at least 100 yards rushing.

“I really feel good about our team,” Mundy’s Mill coach Greg Manior said. “We have had some good practices. We have just been snake bitten in a lot of areas in our first few games. We have done some great things, but we just haven’t came out on top.”

The Tigers are 0-4 against what is called the toughest schedule in the state, regardless of classification. Smith is coming off a major knee injury, and looks to be gaining his old form that saw him rushed for 1,575 yards and 18 touchdowns from last season.

In the first two games, Smith rushed for a combined 45 yards on 20 carries and a touchdown. Against Coffee and McIntosh, teams with a combined 9-1 record, Smith rushed for a combined 323 yards and three touchdowns on 43 carries. During that stretch, the Tigers have lost by a combined five points.

“Although the focus on our subregion, we can’t forget about those games,” Manior said. “We played great against Coffee and McIntosh. We just didn’t pull out the wins. Rodney is getting his legs under him. Rodricous is playing well. He is really getting his confidence.”

Mount Zion is 0-4 with losses to Jonesboro, Washington, Starr’s Mill and Creekside, which have a combined record of 13-6 overall. The Bulldogs have been outscored 182-29 with shutout losses to Washington and Creekside.

“Somebody has to win,” Manior said. “They have a young and hungry group. Like us, we are in the same boat that we need a win. We can’t overlook anybody, and that what we have been re-enforcing with our team tis week. Our only focus is on Mount Zion. We will worry about next week when it comes.”

As Smith production increases, coach are confident the offense will begin to click. They also point to the fact that Smith will help open the passing game, which will help Gates.

“Team can’t stack the box if they know we have a passing threat,” Mundy’s Mill offensive coordinator Patrick Smith said. “Our passing is going to help get people out of the box. Rodricous is getting some confidence.”