The Transylvania Times -

Rosman Hosts Robbinsville To Open Smoky Mountain Play

 

September 26, 2019



If the Smoky Mountain Conference was a swimming pool, the Rosman Tigers are about to dive headfirst into the deep end.

The Tigers kick off SMC play this Friday, hosting the Robbinsville Black Knights.

Robbinsville (5-0) is undefeated and currently the 11th ranked 1A team in the state. They’ve been destroying opponents on the ground, averaging nearly 380 rushing yards per game.

For Rosman (1-4), its the latest stop on a road that seems to have only gotten harder each week.

“Robbinsville is big and I’m sure they’ve got plenty of speed, but the thing big is that they’re physical,” said Rosman head coach Dan Essenberg. “We’re going to have to play with that. We’ve got a tough opponent coming in, and we’ve got to try to continue to get better. We’ve got to come out and play hard for four quarters.”

The catalyst for the Black Knights’ ground game is senior Rylee Anderson, who has 12 touchdowns in five games and is averaging 149 yards rushing per game. Junior Lex Hooper provides depth at the RB position, as he’s scored 10 TDs this year and averages 138 yards per game.

That being said, Friday night won’t be much of a guessing game for the Tigers’ defensive staff.

“Robbinsville is going to do what they’re going to do, and we’re going to try to stop them. That’s about all I can tell you,” Essenberg said.

If there is a silver lining, it could be Robbinsville’s defense, which is giving up roughly 27 points per game. And as good as their ground game has been, the Black Knights have struggled to stop the run at times.

Three teams have rushed for 150 or more yards against Robbinsville this season, including Rabun Gap, which racked up 298 yards on the ground.

In the loss to Chase, the Tigers ran the ball 33 times for 120 yards. And while those drives didn’t always translate into points, Essenberg said they were the kind of drives the Tigers have to get if they want to compete against Robbinsville.

“We had a couple of drives against Chase that looked good, and we had one really good drive against their first string. If we stick that in, it’s probably not going to change the outcome, but it makes things tighter. I’ve explained to the guys that those are the kind of drives we have to have to be successful. We don’t have that explosiveness, so we’ve got to have those 12-play, 70-yard drives where you’re getting three or four yards at a time and eating up the clock. If we don’t get that, then we’re in trouble,” Essenberg said.

Not much has come easy for the young Tiger team this season. They’re losing by an average of 42 points and have only scored six points in their four losses.

Essenberg said he’s seen moments of progress and of regression, but emphasized his team continuing to fight, no matter the opponent.

“I’ve told the guys, that it’s really on them. Are you satisfied with going out and getting beat around or do you want to play harder? As coaches, we’re going to prepare them and do what we have to do. But in the game, it seems like we forget all that. Things are only going to get better if we start playing as a unit,” Essenberg said.

 
 

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