Nate Wardlaw, the offensive coordinator at Jonesboro, says he still believes in his players, and is looking forward to the challenge of turning around the team’s offensive struggles. (Staff Photo: Derrick Mahone)
JONESBORO — Jonesboro offensive coordinator Nate Wardlaw is not ready to push the panic button yet on his unit, but he does realize that they will have to speed up their progress.
The Cardinals have been shut out on offense the last two weeks in back-to-back losses at home.
“It is very disappointing,” Wardlaw said. “I haven’t lost any confidence in my guys. I take full responsibility for this, and I know we will get back to work in correcting this issue.”
Wardlaw said there will be some tweaking in the offense, but he doesn’t anticipate major changes with the offensive unit, despite its struggles the last two weeks.
Since putting up 41 points in a win over rival Mount Zion in the season opener, Jonesboro has suffered consecutive losses to Westover and Griffin.
The Griffin loss was probably the most damaging because it was a Region 4-AAAA, Div. B game that counted toward the playoffs.
But coach Tim Floyd says all is not lost for his team.
“The season is still young,” he said following Friday’s 38-0 loss to the fourth-ranked Griffin team at Tara Stadium.
And Floyd is right, but the loss could mean the chance at playing at home in the first round of the playoffs. Griffin is now tied with Riverdale for the lead on it’s side of the subregion.
“I have to keep talking to them to let them know that we still believe in them,” Wardlaw said.
“It basically comes down to preparation,” senior quarterback Mario Atkinson said. “I’m not stepping up like I should be. I have to push people more. These last two games have really hurt. It has hurt us as a team. I’m trying to go to college, so I know I have to push more. I’m willing to do what ever it takes. I believe in my OC (offensive coordinator) and I’m staying with him.”
Wardlaw acknowledge that the Cardinals have some talent on offense, but most of their skill players are inexperienced. Gone from last year’s squad that went 9-2 are Cameron Sutton (now at Tennessee), Taurean Ferguson (now at Vanderbilt) and Dereon London (now at Savannah State).
Atkinson, who passed for nearly 2,000 yards last season, is the lone returning player with extensive playing experience.
“Everybody has to do better,” Atkinson said. “We just can’t get behind early.”
Floyd said he has confidence in Wardlaw and the players to turn things around as they start to get back into the subregion schedule. This Friday, the Cardinals play Eagle’s Landing, which is in the opposite subregion, but it is still a big game.
“We still have a lot of football left to play,” Floyd said. “We have to pick ourselves up, and get ready for the next game. We are going to have to tweak some things, especially on the offensive line. I know people think we are young, and we shouldn’t compete. We have some good things going, and we have to make sure we keep that going for us.”