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franklin county times

Swindall: Golden Tigers have work to do

By Staff
Mike Self FCT Sports Editor
Russellville football coach Perry Swindall saw plenty of positives in last Friday's season-opening 28-20 win over Deshler, but he also knows the Golden Tigers have a lot of work to do if they hope to win their sixth straight Class 5A, Region 8 championship.
Senior running back Kirby Nelson was Russellville's biggest bright spot on offense, rushing for 104 yards and a touchdown on 13 carries. Punter Jacob Daniel also had a great night, averaging 47 yards per kick and unleashing bombs of 71 and 63 yards.
"Kirby Nelson ran the ball great," Swindall said. "He ran the ball with a lot of heart and a lot of attitude. That's really going to help us. And our punter had a couple of really great kicks. That was certainly a plus."
The bad news is Daniel was called upon to punt seven times, evidence of a frustrating night for the Russellville offense.
The Golden Tigers managed just 233 total yards, including only 37 through the air on 6-of-10 passing by junior quarterback Cory Trapp.
"The yards don't concern me as much," Swindall said. "I'm more concerned about some of the passes we didn't complete that were completeable."
Trapp isn't the first Russellville quarterback to struggle against Deshler in his starting debut. In 2004, Jeremy Helms faltered in the face of a fierce pass rush as the Golden Tigers managed just 69 yards of offense and four first downs in a 23-13 loss.
Swindall said he doesn't see many similarities between the two games.
"Two years ago when Deshler blew us off the face of the earth, we couldn't complete a pass because we were under constant pressure," he said. "We just didn't have any time because of their pass rush. That wasn't the case this year. Our pass protection was very good. I don't think it ever broke down in the pocket. We just had trouble completing passes.
"I guess you can chalk it up to first-time jitters and the fact that we have a shorter quarterback and a very tall offensive line. We're 6-foot-4, 6-foot-3 all across the line, and Cory [who stands 5-foot-10] might have had trouble seeing over them."
Swindall said he remains confident that the Golden Tigers can resolve their issues in the passing game.
"Cory has a great arm, great intelligence, and plenty of want-to," he said. "He has looked great in practice. He just has to do the job on Friday nights, and I believe he will."
Defensively, Russellville forced three key turnovers but also surrendered three touchdowns of 60-plus yards.
"I thought our defense played hard with the exception of three plays," Swindall said. "[Giving up big plays] is a long-term concern, because we have some personnel issues in the secondary. Some of our guys might not be quite as fast as they need to be or have enough football smarts. We're running out of guys to put back there. We've already robbed our wide receiver corps to fill holes in the secondary. The guys we have now are going to have to get it done, because we don't have anybody to replace them with.
"I think they can get better, but it's going to take a tremendous amount of effort and determination to do so."
The Golden Tigers catch a break this week when they travel to face Brewer, a team they have beaten by an average of 36 points over the past three meetings.
The going gets tough after that for Russellville, with a home game against rival Hartselle in Week 3 followed by games at Johnson, at home against Austin, at home against Athens and at Decatur.
"The mistakes we made against Deshler can be corrected, for the most part," Swindall said. "This is a good week for us in the sense that we can focus on ourselves and not worry as much about who we're playing."

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