Nate Bishop made this catch in the scrimmage against Jackson County.

Football season has kicked off in Clay County! Tiger Stadium played host once again to Meet the Tigers, as the elementary teams competed in grid play, followed by the Tigers who scrimmaged Jackson County. Clay dominated the Generals 48-7, despite the score being reset. 

Coach Mike Sizemore was thrilled with the turnout, along with how well his team played in their first full-pad scrimmage. “Any time we get that many kids playing football at one time at one location, it is great for our sport and great for our program,” said Sizemore. “I thought the night went well, it gives our elementary kids a great opportunity to get back to playing the game in a setting where they can work on the plays they've been running before they get into a true game setting and it also gives them an opportunity to get out there and play in front of a great crowd on that opening weekend.” 

After seeing our elementary teams perform up close this season, what style would you like to implement? Anything you’d like to see them improve upon specifically? Sizemore spearheads the Clay County Football program, and he is constantly working to improve the elementary program. He believes everyone needs to work in conjunction with one another to build the program from the ground up. “I think the coaches need to be flexible within the system to be able to coach the talent they have,” said Sizemore. “For example, in our offensive system at the high school, we have produced one of the state’s leading rushers two years ago and one of the top passing games in the state last year all while running the same offense. If you truly run a systemized offense it allows you to adjust to the talent you have in a given year. We always need to be working to improve on the basic fundamentals of our game, and that's true at all levels. If you are a fundamentally sound football player, you can plug into any offensive or defensive scheme and be successful; but you have to have those skills first before you can start having success at the higher levels where they skills will have to be continually sharpened.”

The Tigers ran roughshod over Jackson County, and the improvement to the Tiger Football team shined bright on Friday night. However, Sizemore always knows there is room for improvement. “It shows how far we have come as a program in a short time,” said Sizemore of the event. “Two years ago, we really struggled to put Jackson County away in a scrimmage out here and this year we really came out firing on all cylinders from the start. Consistency makes all the difference in the world. Our kids were really prepared and know what is expected of them on the field right now.”

The Tigers are just getting started, but this is definitely a positive trend to start on. “We still have a way to go and I am sure we will find some things on film that we need to get better at,” said Sizemore. “That comes with constant repetition and refining our skills at practice. We want our kids to always be thinking with a growth mindset because complacency is the ultimate enemy when it comes to improving.”

Coach Sizemore had plenty of positive takeaways from the scrimmage. The Tigers jumped on Jackson from the start and never let up. “Our mentality was great,” said Sizemore. “It was the first time we have come out there and really jumped on someone. Our kids are starting to expect to have success when they come on the field and it showed Friday when we played out here, we just have to continue to work and carry it over to games once the season starts. We are starting to create depth in several areas on our team and I really like to see that paying off because it was our main goal a couple years ago when depth was a glaring weakness. I also like how we play with an unselfish attitude, we cannot be concerned with who scores, or who gets a certain amount of touches, we have to be ready to step up and play when the defense takes away something we have to be able to have a guy ready to go and fill the role required to win the game.”

The Tigers played very well on all fronts; but tightening things up is a must as the season approaches. “We have to do a better job converting every chance we get at points,” said Sizemore. “I think we have learned from last year how important a single point or two, or play or two, can be in determining the outcome of a game. We want to always improve on blocking, tackling, and getting to the football, and playing to the whistle, those things alone will put you in several games and we want to see our kids strive to improve in those areas.”


Chandler Hibbard crushes this Jackson County defender in the scrimmage

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