Greenville defense to prove key against Booker T. Washington

Published 4:49 pm Tuesday, September 1, 2015

The Greenville Tigers operated as a well-oiled machine in Friday night’s convincing 34-13 win over Valley. But two of the team’s three gears were spinning a great deal faster than the remaining one.

Josh McLendon, Greenville’s head football coach, said that the season opener was a strong start, thanks largely due to strong showings from defense and special teams.

“We played really well on defense and special teams, and offense took advantage of the opportunities that we had,” McLendon said.

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“I thought it was a great team win, and a good way to start the season and hopefully it’s going in the right direction.”

McLendon added that the Tigers’ formidable defense is the team’s No. 1 claim to fame at the moment, thanks largely to the chemistry built among its senior leaders.

“They all understand each other and understand where they’re supposed to be, and Coach Jones does a good job with them,” McLendon said.

“But we don’t want to be one-dimensional; we want to be good in all three phases of the game.  But defense is playing well, so we’ll hang on to them and ride them as long as we can.”

The Tigers’ defense will be key in slowing down Booker T. Washington, a team that has already proven capable of matching Greenville’s athleticism earlier this summer when the Golden Eagles bested them in a 7-on-7 competition.

Though the Golden Eagles have gotten off to a rough start in the season proper, losing handily to Jeff Davis 41-8 Friday, the McLendon and the Tigers won’t be taking their opponent any less seriously.

The road trip to Tuskegee will be the first of six for the Tigers, and McLendon said that learning how to play well on the road would pay dividends well beyond the regular season.

“This is a road test for us, so there are a lot of things to be learned this week,” McLendon said.

“You want to be able to play on the road because you feel like, if you do make it to the playoffs, you’re going to have to travel at some point.  And you can use every game as an experience to learn from and understand how to handle travel and playing at different places.  It’s not as comfortable as playing as home, and the routine is a little different, but we want to understand how to handle playing on the road and doing those types of things.”

The Tigers will face the Golden Eagles at Booker T. Washington Friday, and kickoff is set for 7 p.m.