Cougars eager to play Jackson Thursday night

Published 11:03 am Wednesday, August 31, 2011

The Escambia Academy Cougars will look to pick up their second win of the season this Thursday when they take on the Jackson Academy Eagles.

After being derrailed in last week’s 24-20 loss to the Clarke Prep Gators, the Escambia Academy Cougars are focused on getting back on track with a win.

The Cougars (1-1, 0-1) travel to Jackson on Thursday to take on the Jackson Academy Eagles (1-0, 1-0) for Thursday night match up.

Escambia Academy will be looking for their second straight win against the Eagles after defeating them 24-21 in 2010.

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The Eagles are coming off a win in their first game defeating Sumter Academy in a shutout.

Unlike last week, the Cougars have been able to watch the Eagles on film, Cougars head football coach Heath Gibson said.

“Jackson won their first game beating Sumter 21-0,” Gibson said. “This was the first time we have been able to look at a team on film because our other opponents were in their first games, so we are able to see what they are doing this season.”

With the use of film, the Cougars have been able to get a look at the Eagles’ offense and defense.

Seeing the Eagles on film showed the Cougars what they already knew, Gibson said.

“We evaluated them on film,” he said. “They are an extremely fast team, and they throw the ball well. Their quarterback is experienced. He struggled last week, but against us last year, he was tossing it around all over the field. His receivers catch the ball and make things happen when they do.”

In last week’s loss, the Cougars issues were up front with their offensive line.

Escambia Academy gave up eight sacks to the Gators, and running back Jaylen Henry was held below 100 yards for a second consecutive game.

Fixing the problems with the line has been the focus at practice this week, Gibson said.

“Our biggest issue is our offensive line play,” he said. “I feel like we need to establish a run game to move with our passing game. Michael (Thompson) is throwing the ball great. We just need to put the right people on our offenive line, so we can run the football more to open up our passing game.”

Defensively, the Cougars new 3-5 formation has proven to be effective against Sparta and Clarke Prep.

In last week’s loss, it proved to be essential in winning the turnover battle, Gibson said.

“We just need to do what we did last week,” he said. “We won the turnover battle last week, which usually means you win the game. We caused five turnovers, but we just had trouble turning those into points. Our defense is doing a great job, and if they can continue to perform that way then we should win.”

The big battle that EA lost against Clarke Prep involved the amount of times that penalty flag as thrown.

Having so many penalties hurt the Cougars on both sides of the ball, Gibson said.

“We are so aggressive,” he said. “Guys are getting after it and playing to the whistle, but sometimes they play after the whistle. We need to reel it in, and not get those types of penalties. You can’t win with 13 penalties for 91 yards. We just need to be a more disciplined football team.”

Moving to 2-1 would put the Cougars in a good spot early in the season.

Earning the win over Jackson would put the Cougars back where they want to be, Gibson said.

“It’s big for us to get a win this week,” he said. “This will help us get back on track and get our second win.”

The Cougars and Eagles kick off at 7 p.m. on Thusday night in Jackson.