McAlester coach Forrest Mazey thinks the timing of his team’s penalties, not the 20 penalties themselves, were what proved costly against Ada.
There were 38 penalties total, but some of them were what contributed to the Cougars pulling away from the Buffaloes (1-3, 1-1), 42-26, Oct. 4 at Hook Eales Stadium.
A holding penalty in the end zone gave Ada a safety against McAlester to break a 14-14 tie. The Cougars, leading, 23-20, scored the game-winning touchdown on a drive that was allowed to continue after a roughing the passer call on third down.
He said mental toughness has been a part of practice this week, and the team has looked more mentally focused.
“I think any time you’re dealing with kids, you have to always refocus them,” Mazey said. “You have to reset them every so often, and that’s just what we’ve had to do.”
Mazey said discipline and effort will be keys to victory as the Buffs are scheduled at 7:30 p.m. Friday to play Tulsa Hale at home.
He said the Rangers (2-3, 0-2) have a lot of speed and will challenge the Buffs after McAlester won last year’s matchup, 49-0.
One of the players McAlester will look to stop is senior DeAngelo Washington, a VYPE Top 100 nominee. Washington has gotten looks at quarterbacks this season, but is also an option at running back and wide receiver, will being a defensive back on the other side of the ball.
Mazey said Washington has a lot of speed, but doesn’t think Tulsa Hale has the players up front that Ada has. He said that they’ve done a good, competitive drill about tackling in space during practice this week.
The coach described it as outside linebackers, safeties and cornerbacks working together. He said the drill has been about players running with their feet and tracking inside near hips.
“I want to see us tackle while running our feet and not try to stop and grab,” he said. “Offensively, we need to sustain drives and finish with touchdowns and not have to worry about points.”
The Buffs managed to post three touchdowns, all rushing, against the Cougars. Senior running back Hayden Franks ran it in for a pair of scores, while senior quarterback Chris Hilton had a rushing touchdown as well.
McAlester’s rushing game totaled 162 yards on 38 attempts against Ada. Mazey thinks the offensive line is getting better every week, but said the offense cannot get behind the sticks.
He said the Buffs will have won if they are disciplined within their game plan, penalties and turning the football over. Mazey in turn wants to see the defense force turnovers and have many hats fly to the football against the Rangers’ offense.
“If you can be disciplined within the game plan, not do your own thing, you’re going to be successful,” Mazey said. “If you give great effort.”
Contact Corey Stolzenbach at firstname.lastname@example.org