Gadsden City faces Oxford in big region tilt
Thu. September 12, 2013 at 8:24 p.m. | By Kim Craft Sports Editor
Gadsden City’s Dante Rudolph runs against Lee-Huntsville last week. (Photo by Eric T. Wright | Gadsden Times)
Getting caught up with distractions isn’t part of game week preparations for Matt Scott or the Gadsden City Titans, and the high school football coach made sure his players knew that Sunday.
Gadsden City (1-1, 1-0) plays its first road game and its second Class 6A, Region 7 matchup of the 2013 season Friday night at Oxford (0-2, 0-1).
The Yellow Jackets feature star running back and heavily recruited prospect Roc Thomas, an Auburn verbal commit, who injured his right ankle in last week’s 37-27 loss to 6A, No. 2 Clay-Chalkville.
“We’re preparing for him to play and that’s the end of that,” Scott said of having told players those exact words during a team meeting Sunday afternoon. “We haven’t mentioned that again all week.”
Thomas sustained his ankle injury in the second quarter of last week’s game, but played the rest of the way. Despite limited mobility, he ran for a 25-yard touchdown in the third quarter. He also scored on a run in the second quarter, and finished with the two scores and 161 yards on the ground.
“I’ve got a lot of respect for him,” Scott said of Thomas having played while injured for three quarters last week. “There’s a lot of those five-star guys who wouldn’t do that.”
Whether Thomas is able to play or can’t this week doesn’t really matter for Scott and the Titans because of their focus.
“We’re going to control what we can control,” Scott stressed. “Whether he plays or doesn’t play, that’s not our focus. Whoever they put out there, we’re going to be ready to play.
“I’m just saying all we can do is control the things we can. Whatever players they put out there, we’re going to prepare to play well.”
The Titans did just that last week in a 41-7 rout of Lee-Huntsville that was the team’s first win of the season and initial victory under Scott, who was hired to lead Gadsden City in January. Gadsden City dominated the Generals, allowing just 35 yards and leading 28-0 in the first half before substituting more liberally and holding them to 147 yards for the game. Meanwhile, the Titans rolled up 335 yards — 231 of those came in the first half of play.
Starting quarterback Jay Copeland was spot on, completing 6 of 6 passes for 72 yards while only playing in the opening half.
Dante Rudolph led the ground game with 76 yards and two touchdowns on six carries that also came while playing only in the first two quarters.
The win was big for the Titans, but Scott said the celebrating was short-lived with everyone focused on correcting mistakes and making progress weekly.
“Our focus last week was on getting better and improving fundamentally,” he said. “Last week we wanted to control the turnover margin and we did.”
Turnovers, penalties, first-down efficiency and negative plays make up just part of the conversations coaches have had with players this week in stressing things that go a long way in how successful a team is on any given night.
“Those types of things are going to determine who wins and who loses,” Scott said, adding he expects players on both sidelines to play hard and with great effort in this region rivalry game.
“In these type of games, you’ll be able to pick out three or four plays that are difference makers,” he said “That’s what we tell our kids. The interesting thing is, you don’t know when those key plays are going to happen.”
Kickoff is set for 7 Friday night at Lamar Field in Oxford. Gadsden City upset the eighth-ranked Yellow Jackets 28-21 at Titan Stadium last year.