The Transylvania Times -

Tigers Face Tough Test In Hosting Undefeated Swain County

 

October 10, 2019



There’s no rest for the weary and there are no easy weeks in the Smoky Mountain Conference.

The Rosman Tigers (1-6) know both all too well as they prepare for another SMC challenge this Friday night as they host Swain County.

The Maroon Devils (6-0) have steamrolled every opponent they’ve faced, excluding a three-point win over Smoky Mountain in week two.

Rosman is coming off a loss to Cherokee, but head coach Dan Essenberg said there were plenty of positive takeaways he saw.

“We played hard, and I was really pleased with that,” Essenberg said. “Our kids played well and we had opportunities. We just can’t make mistakes. If we break down on one block, it just kills us. Cherokee didn’t physically whip us, we just broke down a few times. Those are just things that when you’re a young football team, it’s growing pains. We did some good things, but we’re a long way away from being a good football team.”

Swain presents an entirely new set of challenges, particularly in the trenches.

“Swain has by far the best line we’ve seen. Their front comes off the ball and they get after you. They’re very aggressive and we’re going to try to slow them down. This is another one of those teams on our schedule that are better than we are. We’re going to have to play great to make it competitive. But it’s still a growing experience for us,” Essenberg said.

Running behind that line are junior quarterback Damian Lossiah and tailback Bryce Sain, who have over 1,000 yards and 14 TDs combined on the ground.

It’s a tall order for any team to deal with, but Essenberg said he’s hopeful his defense can build on what they’ve learned so far this year and put up a fight over four quarters.

“For us, we’re still focused on getting better each week and not taking those steps back. And we’re playing a much better team this week than we did last Friday. So, it’s just a matter of whether we can tweak some things and slow them down,” he said.

The Tigers might find hope in the fact that Andrews ran the ball for 165 yards and two TDs in last Friday’s loss to Swain. Rosman had nearly 250 yards rushing against Cherokee and will look to duplicate that success.

There are only four games left on the Tigers’ schedule, including Friday’s contest.

They face a tough road game at Murphy before their final home game against Hayesville and close out the season at Andrews.

If Rosman can pick up a second victory, their odds of making the playoffs would drasticially increase.

However, Essenberg said a lot of this season’s work has been done with a long-range plan in mind, particularly since so =many of his players were getting their first taste of varsity football.

“We would love to be able to do some things better, but we’re not there physically and that goes back to the weight room and getting stronger,” Essenberg said.

Essenberg added that despite the inexperience on this year’s squad, teams down the road should benefit, as they know how hard they have to work during spring and summer to succeed in the fall.

“We’re working on a lot of things that good teams have in place on day one. If anything else, this will be a valuable lesson for the players that are coming back next year. It should give them a different mindset about their offseason preparation and how important that is. And they know that now because they’ve experienced it,” he said.

 
 

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