Bulldogs represent biggest challenge to TrojansBy: Matt Long, Sports Editor
When the next football game on the schedule is Folsom, no additional hype is needed.
With Oak Ridge having lost to the Bulldogs 12 straight times, the eagerness to win is magnified even more. Make no mistake; the Trojans are looking forward to their opportunity on Friday night.
“You always try to sell the quality of your opponent to your team, because you want your team to raise their level of play,” Oak Ridge coach Eric Cavaliere said. “That’s one thing you don’t have to do when Folsom is on your schedule. Everybody knows how good they are.”
Year to year, there are a few things the Trojans focus on heading into their games with the Bulldogs.
“In terms of preparation, the first thing is to focus on ourselves and improve daily leading up to the game,” Cavaliere said. “The second thing we tell the kids is the pressure is all on them. Everyone expects them to win, so the translation there for us is to play loose and when you play loose without that pressure you play better.”
Last year, Cavaliere told his players to play the way they’re capable of playing. In other words, go out and do your job and no more. Don’t try to do too much; just do your job.
Though Folsom is a spread team known for passing the ball, stopping the run game is always something the Trojans focus on defensively. The Bulldogs pass the ball to set up the run, but they’re equally adept at both passing and running the ball.
“The thing that hurt us most last year was when they dropped back to pass, when had things covered up, then the quarterback hurt us by taking off and running,” Cavaliere said. “When you’re forced to cover four and five receivers, because all of them are quality receivers, you don’t have anyone left to take care of the quarterback if he decides to run.”
So heading into Friday’s match-up with the Bulldogs, Cavaliere said the two most important things are not allowing the big play on defense and not shooting themselves in the foot offensively.
“Folsom scores more touchdowns 40 yards or longer probably more than any other team in the section,” Cavaliere said. “We have to stop the big play. Offensively, we have to execute. In the second quarter of last year’s game, we had a couple of turnovers and shanked two punts and gave them the ball inside our own 40-yard line and they ended up scoring 28 points. We can’t shoot ourselves in the foot like that because they’re too good.”
The Trojans, 3-0 on the season, are coming off a bye week and are rested and have had extra time to prepare for the game. They’ll have to bring their best to upset the Bulldogs.
“Folsom is incredibly talented, maybe the most talented team they’ve had,” Cavaliere said. “It will be a great challenge.”