September 23, 2013

Little things done right provide Chicks win

Adam Troxtell
The Express-Star


Point after attempts are often an afterthought in football, since they're considered fairly easy to get.

For Chickasha, the extra point on their first touchdown against Cache last Friday proved to be the most important one of the game in a 25-24 win that took the team to 2-1 ahead of homecoming week. There was also the Fightin' Chicks single interception. It is another event that can be considered an afterthought, but Cole Young's vital steal from Bulldog's quarterback Judah Sweat with minutes left on the clock meant doing the little things right was the theme of the game.

"That's what we tell our players all of the time," head coach Tom Cobble said. "You don't know what event in the game is going to make the difference."

Often times, it's a collection of little things -- improvements, alterations, change of positions -- that can take a football team to a winning run. Chickasha has won two on the bounce since their opening loss and is showing signs of vast improvement. But, Cobble said the work is still ongoing, even ahead of what is sure to be a hyped-up homecoming game against a winless Altus.

"Every win you get builds excitement," Cobble said. "We've still got a lot to work on. Altus are coming in 0-3, but they traditionally play such a tough opening schedule. I've seen times when they go 0-3 and then go on to win the rest of the games and the district championship. But of course, winning and the confidence that comes with it is huge."

One player whose confidence must be sky-high by now is quarterback Cade Morris, who ran for all four touchdowns against Cache while racking up 167 yards on the ground.

Morris epitomizes what the Fightin' Chicks have worked toward in the preseason: a steady yet effective run game with a few passes thrown in. Still, with six of 17 pass attempts completed against the Bulldogs, there is an increasing need to balance out an experienced run game with an air attack full of young and still learning receivers.

"We'd like to throw a little more," Cobble said. "Our running game is so much stronger this year, and we rely on that. In the past, we've done about 50-50 on offense as far as running and passing, and we'd like to get closer to that. We've got a lot of young receivers. Montana Stonecalf is new to football, Taray Thomas is a sophomore, and Lindbergh Cary is still fairly new to the wide receiver position."

Last Friday's opponent is a good example. A Chicks defense designed to stop the Bulldog run gave up 316 yards of offense on Friday, and only 95 of that came on the ground. Traditionally a running team, Cache had to go to the air, and it worked. Sweat completed 12-15 passes and had three passing touchdowns in the first half alone. He connected with no fewer than five different receivers, and that caused a few problems.

"We did a good job of shutting down the run," Cobble said. "They didn't pass as much in the first two games because they didn't have to. They were able to run the ball. We forced them to pass this time, and it worked for them."

The Chicks are strongest defensively in the middle, Cobble said, and they are now seeing improvement from defensive ends and line backers. Tackle Oron Bowman was one of the team leaders with six tackles and a recovered fumble against Cache, while linebacker T.J. Filer had six-and-a-half tackles. Cary, Evan Copeland, and Triston Hill, all linebackers, combined for 13 tackles against the Bulldogs.

But Cobble admits the secondary has seemed out of touch at times this season, and more will need to be done to ensure when opposing teams go to the air, the yards they gain are minimal.

"Our defensive ends and linebackers are getting better," Cobble said. "Last week, against El Reno, our secondary was out of sync at times. We've been working on trying to fix that."