Breaking through

Published 11:59 pm Tuesday, September 15, 2009

On the backs of their defense, the Opp Bobcats earned their first win of the 2009 season last week with a 9-6 win over Alabama Christian Academy in Montgomery.

The first two weeks for the Bobcats have been a “struggle,” Opp coach Jack Whigham said. The Bobcats lost their opener to Class 2A Elba on Aug. 28 and then 20-14 to region opponent, Holtville on Sept. 4.

Whigham said getting a win was essential for his team.

“We’re obviously happy anytime we can win,” Whigham said. “We had struggled the first two weeks, but we felt better about ourselves. Obviously any time you can win, you’re going to have a little bit more confidence going into the next week.

“We had been close the first two games and we felt like we had the chance to win those first two games, but we just didn’t do it,” he said.

Whigham said the “key” of the game against ACA was that Opp played disciplined on both sides of the ball.

“Our defense played outstanding again as usual,” he said. “They played hard and kept us in the game.

“The main key, as far as offense is concerned, was we didn’t turn the ball over like we had been the two weeks prior,” he said. “When you don’t have any turnovers, you’ve got a chance to win the game, usually.”

In the game last Friday, Opp was down 6-0 until the third quarter, where the Bobcats’ defense recovered a fumble on their own 3-yard line with 44 seconds left. They then marched 97 yards in 15 plays to score the tying touchdown.

During ACA’s ensuing possession, Opp’s Britt Wilson picked off a pass and returned it 10 yards to the Opp 25-yard-line with 1:03 left. The Bobcats marched down to the ACA 17-yard line and downed the ball with 4 seconds to go, before Hunter Jones kicked the winning field goal as time expired.

“(Jones) had kicked some 37-yarders before the game and we didn’t have but four seconds left in the game,” Whigham said. “We didn’t have time to try another play, so it was now or never on that. That’s why we went for the field goal.”

Earlier in the game, Opp was riddled with penalties.

“Some of them might have been questionable, but we shot ourselves in the foot with penalties,” Whigham said. “We kept finding ourselves in second-and-long and that’s not a good situation to be in. So, we’ve got to continue to try and get better at that and continue to try to not turn the ball over. If we can do those things, then we’ll have the chance to win some games.”

As far as what his team is doing at practice this week, Whigham said the focus is solely on the next opponent.

“We’re just getting ready for St. James,” he said. “They’ve got an option attack that is real strong and we’ve got to do a good job against that. They have a real good defensive line and our offensive line has got to do a good job on the line of scrimmage to give us a chance to move the ball. If our offensive line doesn’t do a good job, it’s going to be hard for us to move the ball.”

During those first two losses, Whigham said in order to keep the morale up on the team, he’s had the players work harder at accomplishing the team’s other goals.

“We keep telling the kids that it’s still a long season,” he said. “We now have seven more games and anything can still happen. All of our goals, other than an undefeated season, are still out there in front of us.

“We can still win the region, we can still have a winning record, we can still go to the playoffs and we can still host a playoff game.”

Opp will host St. James in its homecoming game this Friday night. Kickoff is at 7 p.m.