When the two face off tonight, it will be yet another chance to gain additional experience and make strides toward becoming more competitive.
“We’re young in a lot of ways,” McEachern coach Kyle Hockman said. “The only place where we are veteran is on the offensive line and they have played well all year. We’ve got some guys back from injury, and have some guys that getting accustomed to making their normal plays.
“It’s hard to always play your normal game. Sometimes, you freeze or get in that blank stare situation as opposed to really concentrating on your keys. I think we have progressed in our discipline and on our keys and reads.”
After losing two tough games to start the season, the Indians have won their last two, including a 29-28 thriller against Marietta last week that can only serve to boost the team’s confidence. That confidence and trust was made that much clearer when McEachern opted to go for a 2-point conversion, and thus the win, rather than play for a tie.
“We talk a lot about trusting each other,” Hockman said. “The players trust the coaches and the coaches trust the players. In those circumstances, I was thinking, ‘Who is playing the best? What are my best options?’ It’s not what the book says. It’s what is my best option. We had been practicing that play and were ready for it. In the mid-fourth quarter, we knew we were going to run that play in that setting.”
Even if the Indians had failed to score, Hockman said that going for two against Marietta was the right move. Instead of having the team potentially lose confidence and momentum, Hockman said that he wanted to make sure that the limelight was taken off his team.
“I’d rather it be me that’s fighting the battles rather than putting that in the hands of a young kicker, and then having his morale gone and having the team on him,” he said. “If we go for the tie, and defensively, (Marietta) comes back and scores, and everyone is pointing at the kids. I want to be the person to take the criticism if it comes to that point.”
Meanwhile, Kennesaw Mountain has won just one of its first three games, but has still seen both growth as a team and an improved air of confidence in the program.
“You always want to see a return on your investment, so the one thing we always hope is to see the kids strive to improve and get better,” Kennesaw Mountain coach Andy Scott said. “Obviously, we want to compete and win. But, every Friday night, half the teams in the state of Georgia lose. The biggest thing for us is to continue to improve.”
For the Mustangs, Scott has been a breath of fresh air to a program that has seen three coaches in four seasons. After serving as defensive coordinator for Lee County last year, he has seen many changes to the attitude surrounding Kennesaw Mountain this year.
“I think every program is different,” he said. “This is a program that, for the seniors here, I’m the third head coach in the four years they have been in high school. They haven’t had a lot of success. We’re just trying to change the culture and show them how important lifting weights is, how to conduct themselves on game day.
“We’re very fortunate. Our junior program is working hard to implement our schemes. So is our ninth grade and JV. We’re trying to do all of the little things right and see things alike and in color that are new to our program. And it’s something that we will have to continue to work on.”