Now that the non-district portion of the schedule has been completed, the Lindale Eagles will have two weeks to prepare for its District 9-5A opener Sept. 28 against the Marshall Mavericks at Eagle Stadium.
Sitting at 1-2 on the season, the Eagles have displayed positive flashes in their three games, which included a 50-28 loss last Friday in Van to the Vandals.
Head coach Chris Cochran has been pleased with the effort shown by his players but acknowledged mistakes have been costly.
Specifically, against Van, the coach cited a blocked field goal in the second quarter that could have trimmed the Vandal lead to 20-17.
“That block really took away our momentum,’’ he said. “We really needed to get some points there.’’
Instead, the Vandals padded their lead to 27-14 with just over two minutes left in the half.
Cochran noted that his club also has to do a better job of tackling and not allowing extra yards after initial contact.
“Our kids are working hard at it, but when you have several young players like we do, they are still learning the proper techniques,’’ he said.
The Eagle offense has been able to move the ball in each of the previous three games, but has trouble finishing drives.
“On offense, we’ve got to improve in the red zone,’’ Cochran said. “It seems like we’ll get to the 20 or 30 yard line then sputter.’’
Lindale’s offense was clicking in the first half against the Vandals, as quarterback Dillon Heinaman, running back Jordan Jenkins and receivers Brennan Moore, Colton Brown and Conner Boyette kept the chains moving.
In fact, the Eagles struck first as Heinaman found Boyette on a 22-yard score in the opening period. With four minutes left in the half, Heinaman found Moore on a 69-yard score to trim the Van lead to 20-13.
“We were able to move the ball well but the mistakes were what stopped us,’’ the coach said.
Coming into the season, everyone knew the Eagles would be outnumbered – Lindale is the smallest Class 5A team in the state – but Cochran and his staff were also aware the club would also be young.
“It’s true we’ve got some young players, but they have really stepped up,’’ he said. “And by the sixth or seventh game they won’t be young players any longer. They are going to continue to get better.’’
In addition to the bulldozing Jenkins at running back, the coach has been impressed with other sophomores such as defensive back Airik Williams and linebacker Jaret Allen. He also praised the work of senior defensive back Jaron Covey and offensive right guard Cason Cheney.
“Jaron had a great week of practice and it translated into a great game,’’ Cochran said. “He tackled really well.’’
Cheney was a force to be reckoned with in the line.
“He was very physical and finished every one of his blocks,’’ the coach said.
More than anything else, Cochran believes the mental makeup of the entire roster is a definite asset which can lead to future success.
“Our biggest strength is that our kids have great character,’’ he said. “They are buying in to what we tell them and it’s going to shine through eventually.’’