Gadsden City looks to upset No. 2 Clay-Chalkville
Thu. October 10, 2013 at 10:27 p.m. | By Kim Craft Sports Editor
Defensive back Tray Smothers (4) and linebacker T.J. Posey look to lead the Gadsden City Titans to an upset Friday night against No. 2 Clay-Chalkville. (Photo by Eric T. Wright | Gadsden Times)
Help wanted: high school athletes who want to play physical football with great effort.
Gadsden City first-year coach Matt Scott basically put out that message to his players after last week’s 35-7 homecoming loss to Pell City that left the Titans (2-4, 2-2) shaken to the core and looking for answers.
“I was embarrassed, but beyond that our kids were embarrassed, especially when they watched the game film,” Scott said. “But, I think it’s a good sign when players recognize and see it, too. We didn’t play football like we expect to play it.
“I think we’ll see a different team out there this week.”
Gadsden City certainly won’t see the same type opponent it faced last week as the Titans welcome Class 6A, No. 2 Clay-Chalkville (6-0, 4-0) to Titan Stadium Friday night for a Region 7 game that is The Gadsden Times’ Game of the Week. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m.
“Basically we felt like we didn’t show up, and our fans deserve more than that,” Scott said of last week’s defeat, in which the defense allowed the Panthers to roll up 191 yards rushing and 264 total yards of offense. “We’re going to find a group to put in there who are going to play hard and with great effort and intensity.”
He said while Pell City’s offense showed some odd formations they had not lined up in all year that kept Gadsden City’s defensive players on their heels and alert in thinking where and how to counter it, the new schemes shouldn’t have affected the Titans’ level of intensity as much as they apparently did.
“I think those guys have got a chip on their shoulders and hopefully we’ll see a different team,” he said.
Scott made the statement before the season started, he alluded to it on the field moments after last week’s loss and is sticking to it as Gadsden City prepares to take on its biggest challenge of the 2013 high school football season. That means those who aren’t going to play with great effort might as well not even suit up for the game.
“The Xs and Os, that doesn’t really matter if we’re not going to play physical and with great effort,” Scott stressed. “We’ve addressed that this week. We’ve been posting a depth chart every day.”
A daily depth chart no doubt has motivated some players, especially with coaches grading film after each day’s practice.
“That depth chart has changed a lot in the last couple of days,” Scott said. “I think you’re going to see some new faces out there this week, and our guys have responded well to that.”
He said there are some players, and not necessarily the younger ones, who have been given more opportunities to make plays in practice because they have shown a willingness to play the way that’s expected in the program.
“The guys who play with great effort, with intensity and who play physical, sometimes that’s not always your most talented, but if we don’t do that, nothing else really matters,” Scott said.
Gadsden City no longer controls its own destiny as far as gaining the postseason. The Titans were in a four-way tie for second place before the loss last week, but now occupy fifth place in Region 7, one spot away from a playoff berth. To play in Week 11, the Titans naturally need to win the majority of its remaining region games, as well as get a little help along the way.
The road toward that goal won’t be an easy one and continues with Gadsden City needing to exhibit some physical play in competing against the undefeated Cougars, who are led by senior quarterback Hayden Moore, a Cincinnati commitment.
“They’ve got a quarterback who can run and throw,” Scott said. “They’ve got two running backs with really good speed and they’ve got two receivers who can catch the ball well, so we’re going to have to defend the entire field.”
Moore’s stable full of fellow seniors to call upon in attacking the Titans in the air and on ground includes running backs Sidney Battle, Deandres Merriweather and Stephone Sheffield as well as receiver Brian Clark. Junior Terelle West also is a capable running back and receiver, while Sheffield’s twin brother, Stephen, suits up at linebacker, and is among the Cougars’ top defenders.
Gadsden City continues to run its offense through three quarterbacks, senior starter Jay Copeland, junior Sloan Tyler and sophomore Ahmad DeRamus. All three played at times last week.
Scott’s philosophy has revolved around playing the quarterback who gives the team the best chance to win depending on the situational needs at the time.