Friday Preview: Bulldogs in search of identity, wins
To the surprise of no one, the Thomasville Bulldogs are not throwing up their hands after losing to another 4-A squad.
Assistant coach Dickie Cline credited his team's resilience during midweek preparations for its next test at Cushwa Stadium. The Bulldogs (1-3) will be facing a 3-1 Randleman team that would be without blemish if not for a one-point loss to Asheboro last week.
"They're a very good football team, very explosive," Cline said of the Tigerse. "They have outstanding skill players, throw the ball well and have an aggressive defense. It's going to be a challenge."
One of the primary questions facing Cline and Bulldog players in the wake of their 43-7 setback at Davie County is how to keep a beleaguered defense off the field. They will likely attempt to remedy the malady by getting their running back going.
Barring an unforeseen explosion from Demoris Payne and Ike Marsh, who have spearheaded a rushing attack rendered largely ineffective through the first third of the season, expect D.J. Spann to see more carries moving forward. Previously contained mostly by a limited number of touches, Spann became the first 100-yard rusher this year for Thomasville. He totaled 131 yards and a touchdown against the War Eagles.
"We've worked extremely hard to improve the football team, including our running game," Cline said. "There were signs of that Friday. We're still feeling our way through this ordeal, working three guys now who are getting time. We're just going to play everybody and maybe whoever gets the hot hand, we might run with that guy. We're still hunting and pecking to get the best combination of kids out there."
The Tigers had blown out their previous three opponents and are averaging more than 40 points per game this season. If Thomasville is to compete with its capable opponent, the defense will need to perform at a level closer to what it exhibited in a 14-7 victory over Mount Airy in Week 2. Aside from that impressive showing, the Bulldogs have surrendered 117 points through three games against North Davidson, High Point Central and Davie.
Cline said his group has been hurt by the small number of players who make up the team's roster, which has caused the coaching staff to experiment with different players in unfamiliar areas. Couple that with the inexperience of a young football team, and it is no mystery why the Bulldogs have struggled against a daunting schedule.
"It just comes down a lot of times to execution," said Cline. "The capability of big plays hasn't been there. To make big plays, you've gotta have players on the field. Sometimes it's about missing assignments, seven or eight guys executing very well. One or two guys may mess up and it only takes one [to foil a play]. We've got to be more consistent in our execution."
Staff Writer Daniel Kennedy can be reached at 888-3575, or firstname.lastname@example.org.