Tiger Defense Faces Tough Task In Shutting Down Cougars


September 7, 2017

There is no rest for the weary and there won’t be much reprieve for the Rosman Tigers’ defense.

One week after giving up nearly 600 rushing yards to Madison, the Tigers face an equally difficult challenge in slowing down the power run game of Mountain Heritage.

Through two games, the Cougars have steamrolled opponents on the ground to the tune of 388 rushing yards per game.

Led by senior star quarterback Trey Robinson – who is averaging more than 260 yards per game rushing on his own – Mountain Heritage has outscored opponents 81-20 through two games.

That makes for another challenging matchup for the Tiger defense and head coach Matt Stack.

“Madison was very big and physical. When we started seeing injuries and losing starters it became a struggle to tackle. The offense kept us in the game, but we’ve got to tackle low and that’s going to be a big focus this week,” Stack said.

In regards to tackling, Stack said Madison’s size created matchup problems and made it tough for one Tiger defender to bring a player down on their own.

“We’ve done a good job of tackling all year. I think (against Madison) it was a gang-tackling issue. Madison was able to block all 11 guys in one shape or form, so the issue is getting off those blocks and helping your teammate,” he said.

Stack noted that Patriot running back Ty Snelson is bigger than nearly every player on Rosman’s roster and ran behind an even bigger offensive line.

That presents an even greater emphasis on swarming to the ball on defense.

“A big focus this week is rallying to the football together,” Stack said.

As for Rosman’s offense, it’s been as balanced and potent as any years past.

The Tigers are averaging just shy of four touchdowns and more than 400 yards per game.

Luke Stewart is throwing for more than 220 yards per game, and Thomas Collins has rushed for more than 100 yards on the ground in each week.

Stack said the biggest issue with the offense has been coming up with plays in key moments that would either extend drives or put points on the board.

So far this year, those moments have eluded the Rosman offense. Stack said if they can turn the tide and come up with those big plays, they can start turning losses into wins.

“We’ve left touchdowns out there on offense in every game. We really have to hit the easy plays that are there. We’ll be moving along and we’ll get into a spot where we really need to hit a big play and we miss those. If we start hitting those, we can put together a complete game. These guys are young and it’s tough learning a new system, but we’re really close,” Stack said.

Another issue for the Tigers that seems to be an unfortunate refrain every fall has been injuries.

It started in the season-opener when senior David Hall was lost for the year with a leg injury.

That cost the Tigers their starting outside linebacker and one of their running options. It also put into motion a shuffling of different players out of their normal positions.

Injuries also struck Blake Sharpe – Rosman’s kicker and a defensive starter – and cost Marcus Stamey some time against Madison.

Stack said the injuries were unlike any situation he’s had to deal with so early in the season and have made game planning more difficult.

However, the task of winning games remains and the Tigers have to adapt.

“We started preseason with 31 or 32 kids and now we’re at 27 or 28. That’s rough. It’s hard to compete, depth-wise, with that. So we have had to tweak our system a little bit. But at the same time, it’s next guy up. We have to go out there and compete and try to find a way to win the football game,” Stack said.


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