With just eight days before the Aug. 21 season opener against McCallie at Finley Stadium, the Cleveland Blue Raiders are already changing course.
Monday, head coach Ron Crawford and staff bowed to the injury bug and installed a completely different defensive scheme, one that was tested against a solid Rhea County squad in a scrimmage inside Benny Monroe Stadium Tuesday.
The outcome was more or less what Crawford expected, with Cleveland struggling on the defensive side of the ball.
“Defensively we installed a new scheme yesterday (Monday). Due to injuries we had to put in another scheme. Because of that, I put our kids in a bad situation; I just did. We knew it was, but this (scrimmage) was scheduled and I wasn’t going to call and cancel. We knew we’d be in a bad situation, and we needed to see how we responded to some adversity,” said Crawford.
Offensively, the Raiders showed flashes of quality football but could not sustain momentum against the Golden Eagles.
“We thought we would execute our offense pretty well, because this is a front we see quite a bit. We couldn’t finish. We just didn’t finish drives. That was the whole deal. We didn’t finish anything,” said the Cleveland coach. “I knew we were going to struggle defensively with what they do and us implementing a new scheme. So, it is what it is.”
Crawford said the next step is to get back to work with the healthy Blue Raiders and continue to implement the defensive system while moving forward with a desire to finish on the offensive side of the ball.
“I told them we were putting them in a bad situation when we got into this thing and we didn’t respond. Then we had some seniors step up and show some good leadership. We kept battling along the way. Now we’ve got to go back to work and take the ones we’ve got and get better,” he stated.
“It’s better to be in a bad situation here than in the middle of the season. We knew what we were getting into and we saw some positive things. But we’ve got to finish drives and we will get better defensively as we learn what we’re doing. Other than injuries, I didn’t see anything that can’t be fixed.”