Eagles are ready to fly

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Pleasant Home has worked hard in the offseason to prepare for a strong 2016.

Pleasant Home has worked hard in the offseason to prepare for a strong 2016.

Pleasant Home kicks off the 2016 high school football season with high hopes this Friday as they hit the road to take on the Fruitdale Pirates.

“I think match up really well with them,” Pleasant Home head coach Chris Mason said. “Size and speed wise we are similar teams. If we can do the little things right, I like our chances.”

Pleasant Home competed in a preseason jamboree last Friday night in Mobile, and Mason said he saw some positive things from his players.

“We had some bright spots,” Mason said. “There were a lot of things that we did right. There were a few things that did not look so good. We had too many penalties and turnovers. There were a lot of good things and the things that we didn’t do as well in are fixable.”

Mason said that the preseason games allowed the coaching staff to get a better feel for the team.

“That was three good teams that we played down there,” Mason said. “It was good for us to see a little game speed, and it gave us good film to watch. We are able to see what needs fixing and what we were doing right.”

Friday night’s opener will require the Eagles to put in some hard work to pull out the win, Mason said.

“It’s a long drive and they are a physical team,” Mason said. “They are a lot like us, in that they don’t really have one standout player, but they have a lot of kids that are going to get after it. They (Fruitdale) opened up their season last Friday night and lost in overtime. I expect them to come out even more hungry after that type of game.”

Mason said that Fruitdale won’t do anything fancy, but they have players capable of making plays.

“They don’t do anything really complicated,” Mason said. “They are just a simple smash-mouth football team. If we can do the little things right, I like our chances, but if we don’t it’s going to be a long bus ride home.”

Offensively, Mason said that the Eagles will focus heavily on the run.

“We want to try and establish the run early,” Mason said. “I think we match up with pretty well size wise, and we will try to do some things to get some mismatches. Their cornerbacks are a little undersized so we will see if we can make some plays on the outside.”

Mason said the establishing the run is going to be crucial for the Eagles offense.

“Our lineman are going to be key to establishing the run,” Mason said. “They did a good job of that last week, but our backs will have to do a better job of holding on to the football. That’s something that we will correct this week.”

The Eagles will also need to pass the ball to keep Fruitdale honest.

“We do have to throw the ball to keep them from just stacking the box,” Mason said. “I like our chances throwing the ball as long as we are able to establish the run first. If we can’t get the run going, it could be a long night.”

The key for the Eagles will be controlling the line of scrimmage, Mason said.

“If we can control the line of scrimmage early, I think we score on them quickly,” Mason said. “Our running backs D.J. (Worley) and Rico (Bovino) are a good one-two combination. We are going to be leaning on them Friday night. Who ever controls the line of scrimmage will win the game.”

On defense, Mason said the Eagles will have to focus on stopping the run.

“They ran the ball 90 percent of the time last week,” Mason said. “They two good running backs and a quarterback that is also a good runner. We have to a do a better job tackling this week. Last week we had several chances for tackles for losses, but we didn’t wrap up.”

Mason said that Fruitdale has been prone to turn the ball over.

“They turn the ball over a good bit also,” Mason said. “It could come down to who can hang on to the football.”

This week, Mason said that he has been preaching about big plays on special teams.

“I want us to make a big play on special teams,” Mason said. “A blocked punt or return, just something to give us a spark. Those types of plays can really sway the momentum of the game. We will try to do some things this week to take advantage of that.”

Pleasant Home and Fruitdale will kickoff at 7 p.m., on Friday in Fruitdale.