Going into this game, head football coach Jason Respert said he sees room for improvement in his 1-1 team.
He said last week he and his coaches were staying focused on improving — which he said is often hard to do after an opening night win. The Tigers lost to South Cobb in their second game 35-19 after defeating Chapel Hill 46-7 on Aug. 31.
“At this point we still need to continue to get better on defense; hitting the run game hard on every snap; offensively, knowing our assignments on every play and our execution. The coaches have done a good job keeping the focus on improving,” Respert said last week after the opening night win over Chapel Hill.
After the Panthers had impressive showings against Alexander in a preseason scrimmage and game one against Osborne, the win was one to shock many, especially with such a large point difference.
Prior to the game against Chapel Hill, Respert said he knew his team had its work cut out for it.
“We knew it would be a challenge with them beating ‘DC’ last year and being reigning county champs. They only gave up seven points on defense against Alexander and Osborne. They’ve got great running backs so I hoped our special teams would step up,” Respert said.
Respert gave a large amount of credit to the special teams unit and defense as they put a major halt to Chapel Hill’s run game, which had proven to be their most effective offensive strategy as they racked up 248 rushing yards against Osborne.
“The defense didn’t play perfect but well enough to put Chapel Hill in position to punt the ball,” Respert said.
When it came to special teams, Respert singled out junior kicker Juan Serna as the key to their success, forcing the Panthers to cover the full field after kickoffs as he placed six of them in the back of the end zone.
Serna also had a 48-yard field goal that further increased the Tigers’ lead.
After the win, Respert said he wanted to thank his coaches for doing such a good job preparing the guys to go out and play the way they did. “We felt excited. The guys have worked extremely hard with a couple years of built up frustration that they channeled into the weight room. It was just a blessing to see the joy on their face and I have to thank God for such great coaches,” Respert said.