Rest for the weary

Published 12:02 am Thursday, October 4, 2012

Opp’s Ta Bonham (20) avoids a tackle during the Bobcats’ 22-14 loss to Andalusia last week. | File photo

Last Wednesday, Opp head football coach Jack Whigham decided that his team needed some extra rest.

With the Bobcats battling injuries, Whigham and his coaching staff held a film session on Monday afternoon and at about 3:45, let the players go home.

Not one player or coach touched the practice field that day, the coach said.

“It was nothing with us losing against Andalusia,” Whigham said. “I wasn’t going to let the outcome of the game determine it. I had already made up my mind last Wednesday with the amount of players we had beat up. I just thought an extra day’s rest would do us some good.

“I thought we had a really good practice (Tuesday),” he said. “Tuesdays have not been really good for us.”

The Bobcats came back with an extra “pep” in their step two days ago as they turned their focus on Southside-Selma this week for their homecoming game.

Opp (2-3, 1-2 in Class 3A, Region 1) is coming off a 22-14 loss to long-time rival, Andalusia.

Not only can a region game week bring all sorts of distractions, homecoming brings a different element as players and students participate in different activities throughout the week.

Whigham said he thinks the players have handled everything well.

“What we try to express to the kids, while homecoming is filled with activities, that the football team’s contribution to homecoming week is to win the football game,” he said. “Do kids want to get out and participate in certain things? I’m sure they do.”

Whigham said his only concern is for his kids’ safety in what they’re doing.

“We pretty much told them that we could put a curfew on them and have to go around and check them and do bed checks,” he said. “If it’s not important enough for them to do the right thing, then we’re not teaching them the right things.”

Instead, Whigham said he and the coaching staff told their players to get everything this week they’re going to do by last night.

“Then, they need to get their mind on what they need to do (on Friday night),” he said. “I’m not trying to be a hard liner or anything like that.”

On Southside-Selma (1-4, 1-2), Whigham said the Panthers are athletic with more players who can pose a threat in different areas.

“They’re like a lot of teams, like us in a certain aspect,” he said. “When things are going really well, they’re really good. They’re having trouble when the bad things happen recovering from it. A lot of it happens when they don’t have much success. They’re not handling the adverse things right now.”

Hopefully, the Bobcats will get off to a good start tomorrow night, Whigham said.

“If we can get off to a good start, it’ll help us go a long way to win the football game,” Whigham said. “Conversely, if we mess around to start with and let them mess with us, then we could be in for a long night before we can turn it around.”

Opp’s offensive line, despite a couple injuries, needs to get back to the way they were earlier this season, Whigham said.

“We know they can do it,” he said. “We just need to get back to the fundamentals and have a little confidence and perform at the level that we’re capable of.”

On the injury front, Opp junior linebacker and leading tackler Quantavis Stoudemire, has a bad ankle; Dylan Northey, senior offensive lineman, is still out with a torn knee ligament; Michael Catrett, senior offensive lineman, has returned to practice this week; Ethan Davis, junior quarterback, is improving in games; and Ty White, freshman quarterback, will be out from contact this week due to his shoulder injury.

Whigham said, like when he decided to cut practice on Monday, that the coaching staff foresaw where the team would stand at this point in the season back in January, when the schedule was released.

“Hopefully, we’ll get most people back in the next three weeks,” he said. “Straughn’s got an outstanding team right now. Southside and Cottage Hill are capable teams.

“If we can get healthy in the next two weeks, then I think we can make a little run in the second part of the year,” he said. “We knew in the middle right there that we might have a chance to win a few games. That’s a chance we’re gunning for.”

Kick off at Channel-Lee Stadium in Opp tomorrow night is at 7.