There’s no rest for the weary. Coming off a hard fought 26-21 loss to defending District 5-AAA champions McMinn County High School, the Cleveland Blue Raiders will need to climb back up into the saddle this week as they make the trek to Soddy-Daisy to face the Trojans.
Cleveland finds itself a little bruised and battered coming out of last Friday’s game, but with it being this late in the season it’s nothing head coach Ron Crawford wasn’t expecting.
“Reed Allison is day-to-day with a busted lip that needed stitches. Trent Crouch has bounced back and practiced every day. David Morgan will probably be limited as well. We’re pretty banged up. But, honestly we’ve been pretty fortunate to this point and stayed pretty healthy, but that’s just the game of football for you,” explained Crawford.
While the Raiders gave McMinn’s Cherokees a run for their money, the defending champs turned it on in the second half and ran away to another big district win.
Despite the loss, Crawford and the team have utilized the game as a learning experience. Game film exposed some areas that the squad will be looking to improve upon come tonight.
“McMinn did a great job covering our screen game. We also struggled with some of the downfield throws we typically make,” explained Crawford.
But, in counterpoint Cleveland’s running game helped carry the load, and that was a welcome sight to the new Raider head coach.
“We were proud of some of the things we were able to do in the run game. C.J. is quite a threat. He doesn’t need a big seam; we just need to him into the secondary, because he can break tackles in the backfield. He’s gotten better. Our offensive line has gotten better, and they only make each other better as a result.”
Defensively, the team suffered from 15 missed tackles against the Cherokees’ two standout running backs. The big sticking point for Crawford, though, was 173 yards after first contact.
Tackling fundamentals will be on the forefront of player’s minds moving forward, and they should have a good opportunity to practice this evening.
Cleveland’s opponent tonight is a Soddy-Daisy squad still searching for something to hang their hats on through what has become a disappointing season.
Currently, the Trojans have a record of 2-5 and are coming off a 42-12 thumping at the hands of Walker Valley’s Mustangs.
Twice this season they have suffered shutouts at the hands of district opponents (Bradley Central 35-0 and Ooltewah 48-0) and have provided a beleaguered Chattanooga Central team its only victory this season.
All that aside, Crawford is making sure his squad isn’t looking past an opponent who could be gunning for a shot at redemption.
“We are seeing a quite a few different things from Soddy. They’re searching for something positive. We saw a good running back against Ooltewah, and then we don’t see him at all last week. We don’t know what the situation is there,” Crawford said.
“Defensively, they put out an eight-man front with one high safety. Their kicking game is really good. We are either going to get a desperate opponent or one that’s packed it in. So, we had better prepare for the desperation.”
It will all be decided at 7:30 tonight at Soddy-Daisy high school as the Raiders go for their third district win in an attempt to keep pace in the postseason hunt.