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Crenshaw Christian looking toward future

The Crenshaw Christian Academy Cougars have faced their share of ups and downs throughout the 2015 season, including a pair of decisive losses at the tail end of the year.

But the Cougars are looking forward, and not behind, to pave a way for postseason success.

This year’s round-one opponent—the Jackson Academy Eagles—is the first test for a Cougars team in search of leadership.

Dean Briggs, head coach of the Crenshaw Christian Academy Cougars, said that last year’s team was blessed with a stable of strong seniors that paved the way to a second-round appearance.

This year’s team is different in many ways, though their tenacity is felt just the same.

“This year, we don’t have those seniors that we had last year,” Briggs said. “We have a new group of seniors, and they’re going to have to do what they need to do to lead the team through the year and get them ready for the playoffs. I’ve always told our players that we just want to get there—we can’t have a chance unless we get there.”

Speaking of last year, the Cougars find themselves in a similar situation , though the Jackson Academy team they face this season is fairly different from the 2014 iteration.

The Eagles favor the Wing-T formation and a strong emphasis on the ground game.  A regular-season average of nearly 32 points per game would indicate that the Eagles have had little trouble finding the end zone.

“They like to run the football really hard, and they like to run to the edges with the buck sweep,” Briggs said. “And they’ll come over the top with the post pattern or waggle down the middle of the field.

“You’ve got to be able to defend the whole field with them, because they throw it pretty well.  They’ve got two good receivers who can really play and a big running back who can go, so it’ll be a challenge with us.”

Briggs made setting the edge a defensive priority for slowing down a capable Eagles offense, but that’s hardly the only step to success.

“We’ve got to be able to contain their runners and turn those buck sweeps back in to our linebackers, because that’s where the strength of our team is,” Briggs said. “If we can play very sound on top with our safeties and make sure we don’t bite and get our guys caught up in the backfield.

“We practiced all week without a football on defense, just playing our responsibilities and making sure that we’re gap-sound. I would rather them try to beat us with their arm rather than just outrunning us.”

The Cougars will travel to Jackson to face the Eagles tonight.  Kickoff is set for 7 p.m.