September 26, 2013

Preview: Altus offers familiar homecoming challenge

Adam Troxtell
The Express-Star


The build up to Chickasha's homecoming week has been beneficial to team morale, with two consecutive wins indicating something is certainly going right.

But if the Fightin' Chicks are to cap a week of fervor and fandom properly, they'll have to dispose of an Altus team that is known for starting slow before coming back with vengeance in District 1 5A. After three straight losses, head coach Tom Cobble is not taking this week's opponent lightly. 

He can recall instances where Altus have started 0-3 before coming back and challenging for the entire district title. To avoid becoming their first victim, Chickasha will have to perform in almost the same way they did last week.

"Offensively, their similar to Cache, so last week was a nice tune-up," Cobble said. "They've got a couple of strong running backs and if we don't stop that attack, we'll be in trouble."

This is fairly good news for Chickasha, given they held last week's Bulldogs to just 95 yards on the ground. Altus has no more than five personnel that can run the ball, and at the top of that list sits sophomore Taven Birdow, the son of former Oklahoma State star Jermaine Birdow. Last season, Birdow ran for 419 yards on 87 carries, but he also poses an aerial threat with 63 passing yards.

Speaking of passing, the Fightin' Chicks are busy trying to add balance to their run-based attack by beefing up their own air attack. While he ran for 167 yards last week, quarterback Cade Morris only completed six of 17 passes to a wide receiver corps that Cobble says is still relatively young. To help fix this, he's enlisting the help of 6 ft. 2 in., 210 pound defensive standout and senior T.J. Filer.

"Getting T.J. involved more on offense is something we've been working on, so that'll help us in the long run," Cobble said. "He's a big guy, so he's real hard to tackle."

It shouldn't be an impossible task, and Cobble said Filer can pose multiple threats on offense, whether he's lining up as a wideout, in the slot, or as a tight end closer to the line.

"He can do any of it, which is a great thing," Cobble said.

Last week, Filer was involved in a team-leading seven tackles, and he may be needed more on defense this week depending on how quick a few Fightin' Chicks recover. Linebackers Triston Hill and Evan Copeland have come up with a few injury knocks this week, Cobble said, but the coaches are hopeful they'll be available for tonight's homecoming game.