Depending on your point of view, the bye week which Camden Military Academy had last weekend either came at the best or, worst possible time of the season.
Two weeks ago, the Spartans snapped a season-opening four-game skid with a dominating 27-14 win over the Carolina Gladiators in Asheville, N.C. CMA had to wait to build on that momentum, however, as the school’s annual fall break led to not having a game or, practice last week.
On the one hand, the open week forced a delay in any momentum derived from the season’s first victory. The positive of not playing was allowing some of his injured players more time to heal said, CMA head coach Will Rice.
“It’s kind of a mixed bag,” Rice said of the timing of the bye week. “Our kids were tired and some of them were pretty banged up. So, it was a pretty good time to take a break. But you have to have a whole week off and not practicing. We’re worried about rust this week.
“If we could have played last week with the high from coming off the win … but they’re still pretty excited because this week is a conference game. But it would have been better not to have had the break.”
The win in Asheville came in the conference opener for the Spartans who today will pack up the bus and make the four-hour trip to Gray, Tenn., to take on Trinity Academy in their second league game.
Rice said he hopes his squad will be able to pick up where it left off two weeks ago when things started to click for the Spartans in the Blue Ridge Mountains.
“I thought our quarterback played a really good game; he was sharp,” Rice said of the play of Harrison Montgomery. “I thought our defense played well. We had several interceptions. They scored their two touchdowns in the fourth quarter when it was 27-0.
“Our offense looked good in that game. Of course, we turned the ball over too much which is something we have to work on … ball security.”
The win over the Gladiators took much of the sting from a tough opening stretch of games from the Spartans’ collective mouth. For a team which gets a late start to the season and showed up a week earlier to begin practice for this season, Rice said coming away with a victory was a reward for long weeks of hard work.
“It was very good. All the work they put in. We did a lot of good things in that game,” he said. “It was good in the fact that we got the win but it was also good that we still made a lot of mistakes that we can try and correct.”
While most public school teams practice during bye weeks, that option was not available to Rice and company as the school shut down and students were allowed to go home or, take a fall vacation if they wanted. When the Spartans reconvened for practice on Monday, the coaching staff was pleased with what they saw. “We came out here Monday after a week off and we’ve had a couple good days of practice,” Rice said.
When the Spartans arrive in Tennessee for tonight’s 6:30 p.m. start, they will be going up against a host team which carries a 1-6 record into the contest. In their first seven games, the Knights have allowed opponents to score better than 42 points per game while having scored an average of 14 points an outing.
Trinity Academy is, however, coming off a 36-12 win over the Greenwood Raptors last week and has some momentum heading into tonight’s contest.
“It’s going to be a challenge,” Rice said. “It’s just like I told our guys; it’s a conference game but it’s also a step up in competition. It’s going to be a tough game.”
The Knights will throw multiple offensive formations at the CMA defense. When the hosts go to the option attack, Rice said his players need to be disciplined in their technique. “They also have some speed, which we need to contain,” he added.
Rice said it is tough to get a true evaluation on the Knights since, in the two game films CMA has on Trinity Academy, different players have made their way into and out of the lineup which leads to it being a guessing game for the Spartans’ staff.
What Rice is hoping for is that the Spartans can build on the momentum gained from the victory two weeks ago when they hit the field tonight.
“I’d like to see the progression we make,” he said. “We got the win and our guys are really excited about that. I’d like the see that continual growth. We’ve had some peaks and valleys this year and we want to keep climbing that hill to the peak.
“We want to get better in all aspects of the game. It was a win and, we’re grateful for it. The kids worked hard but we still have a lot to work on.”
Tonight will mark the second straight lengthy bus trip for the Spartans. After the three-hour journey to Asheville two weeks ago, they will tack on another hour when they head to Gray, Tenn., a suburb of Johnson City. Rice said he hopes his players will come out with the same attitude tonight as they did against the Carolina Gladiators.
“The hope is that they’ll get some sleep and be rested up,” Rice said of dealing with the long trip. “We’ll get there early and give our guys time to stretch their legs so we can take our time warming up before the game.”