Eagles, Headland both search for first victory
By By BRUCE HIXON Sports Editor
One good thing about a game where two winless teams face each other is, at least for one week, one of them will get healthy.
Stating the obvious, the W.S. Neal Blue Eagles hope they are that team when they entertain the Headland Rams Saturday at 7 p.m. in a Class 3A Region 1 matchup. The game was pushed back a day due to Hurricane Ivan.
Weather conditions or weather damage could force the game to be postponed to Monday or even next Friday when the Blue Eagles are slated to play a home non-region game against Trinity Presbyterian.
"It just depends. Right now we don't know what the damage situation is going to be. We don't know how soon Headland will be able to travel here. We don't know about the power situation," W.S. Neal coach Shane Smothers said.
Smothers said the weather distraction was not much of a factor Monday, but Tuesday was a different story.
"Things were pretty much business as usual Monday with the kids, but Tuesday the storm distractions started to set in. We're probably going to be out of school for a while. We won't be able to practice during that time. The kids may be need to help out at home, which is where their main focus needs to be," Smothers said.
One scenario Smothers said will not happen is the game will not be moved if field conditions are unplayable in East Brewton, but playable in Headland.
"We won't change locations. This is our home game and we need to play at home," Smothers said.
Both teams enter the game 0-2 in region play, 0-3 overall. While W.S. Neal is coming off a crushing 18-14 loss at Slocomb, Headland limps into the contest after a 34-0 loss to Pike County.
While W.S. Neal suffered a painful loss at Slocomb, Smothers found many positives from the game.
"From an effort standpoint, we probably worked as hard last week and prepared as well for a game as any team I've coached. I feel real bad our players didn't get a win to show for their effort, but Slocomb's kids played hard too," Smothers said. "We did a much better job of sustaining our offense in third down situations. The Cory Freeman experiment at fullback worked real well and we'll keep him in that spot for now. (Assistant) Coach (Buck) Quarles and I were extremely pleased with the way our offensive line got off the ball. Mario Daniel did a great job running the ball."
In addition to the goose egg,
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there remain some dark clouds over the Blue Eagles. One of those is the 14 penalties for 128 yards the squad had at Slocomb. W.S. Neal has been penalized 25 times the last two weeks.
"We estimated we also lost more than 100 yards in offense from those penalties. Add that to the actual penalty yardage and that's tough to overcome," Smothers said.
Another item that has plagued W.S. Neal is second half production.
"In three games, we've scored two points in the second half and none in the fourth quarter," Smothers said.
Slocomb burned the Blue Eagles for 154 passing yards last week, as quarterback Justin Myles averaged nearly 40 yards per completion.
"We can't have that. I think our cornerbacks were playing run support instead of pass defense and it really burned us. With the success they had, I'm surprised Slocomb didn't throw the ball more than they did," Smothers said. "Headland runs a similar offense, the wing-T. I'm sure they will try some of the same things Slocomb did."