The Patriot Pulaski County had a satisfying day of competition last Saturday when it took on defending West Virginia state champion Bluefield and always strong Magna Vista in Dobson Stadium. Cougar head coach Stephen James was pleased with the effort and increased physical style of play by his team. He also said some questions were answered, but there are still some question still trying to find an answer.
Next up is a VHSL sponsored “Benefit Game” at Radford Friday, and there has never been any love between the Cougars and Bobcats, and there likely won’t be any Friday either. James also realizes that some fans will look at this game just as they would a real game in the season that counts, but it’s not. He will not get caught up in that mindset.
“Sure, we want to leave the field knowing we were the better team down there. That’s what you always want to do, and that’s what competition is about, and I expect our team to compete, and we will not be happy if we do not get a great effort, but I can’t get caught up in any of those emotions from past years. We have a plan. We will follow it. This is almost like a quiz you get in school. We’ve passed one quiz, now we need to pass the next one.”
That plan means getting a lot of players into the action. “We liked a lot about last Saturday,” said James, “however, we have a lot of fundamental things that need to be corrected. Our effort was good, our kids took the field to compete, and we took on every challenge last Saturday. That’s good, but it’s still got to get better.,” said James.
And there are still decisions to be made, and it’s possible Friday night’s performance at Radford could make those decisions. “It will be more like a game than last week, and we need the down and distance work, however, we will still be approaching it much like a practice. We have a lot of players that still need reps. There are still positions that have not been won. We will be playing a lot of people in different spots to try and find our best combinations, just like we did last Saturday. We’re also trying to create depth in certain areas of our team, and you can’t create depth without putting players on the field and give them live playing time. We intend to compete, but we still need to find some answers,” said James.
James says there is also much improvement necessary for this group of Cougars, and Radford is the last time to provide some polish. “We need to cut down on penalties, had too many last week. We also need to execute better, make sure we are getting our assignments down. We missed too many blocks, too many tackles, and we just missed assignments. It’s fundamental stuff, but it’s vitally important at this stage. It’s the final dress rehearsal you could say. Next week it counts, and we need to get ready,” added James.
Gates will open at Radford Stadium at 5 p.m. The game begins at 7 p.m. Admission is $7.00. Next Friday Pulaski County will travel to Northside to officially open the 2018 season.
By DAN CALLAHAN, The Patriot