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Cougars fall to Eagles, prepare to face Chiefs

Senior quarterback Cole Roper dives for a first down for the Cougars.  (Photo courtesy of Merica Tisdale)

Senior quarterback Cole Roper dives for a first down for the Cougars. (Photo courtesy of Merica Tisdale)

By Railey Ayers

“I’m sorry.  It’s going to get better. It will even be better as soon as this Friday,” said senior quarterback Cole Roper of last Friday’s loss as he exchanged a grimace with senior receiver Woody Smith.

Smith agreed, “We didn’t play as well as we were capable of playing, and that’s all it boiled down to. We did not play like the good team that we can be.”

Roper responded bleakly with a word that seemed to echo in every player’s, coach’s and fan’s brain alike after Friday night, “Turnovers- we did not execute and it lead to turnovers. We beat them physically, but the scoreboard boiled down to effort, poor team play and turnovers.”

“When you turn the ball over like that, you’re not going to play a competitive game,” echoed CCA Head Coach Mike Sims.

The Cougars turned the ball over six times and claimed 11 penalties for 95 yards, but a few strengths also came to light. “We punted well,” Sims added jokingly.

“Quay Laprade was a big bright spot for us, as was Tyler Henderson’s defensive performance.”

Laprade and Henderson, both juniors, led from opposite sides of the ball. Laprade rushed 21 times for 176 yards and a touchdown, and Henderson led the defense with 13 tackles.

“We suffered a downfall in our turnovers among other things; we obviously have a few things that we have to fix. We have a lot of changes coming up this week at practice,” Laprade said.

“We are going to have to run the ball harder and faster and win the game both physically and mentally. I am completely confident that we can bounce back and do that because, hey, we’ve got the best coach in the world, and he’s going to start getting the best out of us.”

After falling to the Jackson Academy Eagles 46-13 on Friday night, the Cougars are no longer concerned with being a ‘Cinderella Story.’

“The identity of this team is going to unfold throughout this season, and while winning isn’t everything, the will to win is. I believe this loss boils down to effort and perception of this program based off of history,” Sims said.

“I’m a new coach. We thought that a miracle was going to happen just because we thought ‘Hey look, there’s a new vision for the program and everything is going to be great and good and that will make up for lack of effort,’ but that is not the way a good thing happens. It’s just the opposite.

“My confidence in these boys has not changed one bit, but we are about to increase our intensity level every day of practice. Friday night was an opening experience as far as where we’re at and what my standards are for us, and those two things have not met yet.”

The Cougars will face the Lakeside Chiefs at home Friday at 7:00.