The Transylvania Times -

Tigers Clash With Braves As Both Seek Conference Wins


October 3, 2019

After a tough loss in their conference opener, the Rosman Tigers are hoping to bounce back with a road win this Friday night.

Rosman (1-5) has a date with the Cherokee Braves.

Cherokee (1-5) is in the middle of one of its worst seasons in recent memory after winning a state title two years ago.

The Braves, like the Tigers, took a thumping in their Smoky Mountain Conference opener, losing to Swain County 41-0.

Both teams will go into Friday night believing they have a chance to win and Rosman head coach Dan Essenberg feels his team can compete with the Braves.

“We’re actually playing against a team that, on paper, we can play with,” Essenberg said. “We definitely have an opportunity to get a win this week. We have to play better than we have the past few weeks for that to happen. Cherokee still has some speed and they’re huge up front.”

Speaking about last week’s loss to Robbinsville, Essenberg said the Black Knights essentially ran the same plays as the Tigers, only with much more success.

And while Robbinsville was certainly the better side, Essenberg said his team had opportunities to make some plays, but just couldn’t take advantage.

“If you look at the film on a lot of these games, you see a lot of mistakes on our part. Against Robbinsville, the veer should have been a really good play for us, but it wasn’t because we couldn’t get to the linebacker. And the reason we couldn’t get to the linebacker was because our splits were too tight and we kept getting knocked into the guard before getting to the second level. If we can do that, we’ve run the ball with some success. We’re trying to teach these guys the right way to do things and just working on getting better,” Essenberg said.

A major part of the process involves strength and conditioning.

Essenberg said his players aren’t nearly as strong as the teams they are going up against. There is no immediate remedy for that problem, but long-term, getting stronger will play a key role for the Tigers.

“We’ve got to hit the weight room and get strong over the offseason. Right now, we’re not strong, and it shows on Friday night. They haven’t been in the weight room nearly enough. Brevard kind of went through that when I first retired, and it hurt them. Now (Craig) Pritchett has them back in the weight room and it shows. That’s your life blood and it’s been missing here,” he said.

It’s been three years since the last time Rosman defeated Cherokee.

The Tigers have had some lopsided losses this year, but with the chance to pick up a road win against a conference rival, Essenberg believes his players will be ready to go.

“I expect us to play really hard Friday. If not, then we’ve got problems. Looking at what’s left at our schedule, we’ve got the chance to get a few more wins. But it’s not just about winning – it’s about teaching them how to play and how to play as a team. We’re going in the right direction, we’re just going slow,” Essenberg said.


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