CALEDONIA — Turn the page.
Coaches often talk about getting their players to put mistakes behind them so one miscue doesn’t become two and two don’t become four.
That adage is even more important for teams facing challenging schedules. Caledonia High School football coach Andy Crotwell’s team falls into that category as a member of the Mississippi High School Activities Association’s Class 4A, region 4. With perennial state champions like Noxubee County and Louisville and a playoff regular like Kosciusko, there isn’t much wiggle room for a team like Caledonia that is trying to secure one of four playoff spots in the six-team region.
Last week, Caledonia lost some of its margin for error in a 39-7 loss to Houston. With four region games remaining, Caledonia (4-2, 0-1 region) can ill afford another loss in its region, which makes its game against Louisville (5-2, 1-0) at 7 tonight even more important. To reinforce that point, Crotwell has stressed to his players that they have to forget the Houston game and re-focus for a key home game against one of the state’s traditional powers.
“I think our kids have moved on just fine,” Crotwell said. “I told them after the game that it doesn’t matter what the numbers on the scoreboard say once the clock has reached zero. No matter how good or bad the score looked, it still counts as only one in the left or right column. Until you play that final game, you always have an opportunity for redemption and to look toward that and to be prepared to go on Monday. I felt our kids were. Whatever moping they had to do or disappointment they had was gone by Monday and they were focused on the next opponent.”
Crotwell said the Confederates didn’t play their best game assignment wise and committed too many turnovers that allowed the Hilltoppers (6-1, 1-0) to play fast-paced defense and to use their single-wing offense to capitalize on short fields. In hindsight, Crotwell said he probably would take a different approach from a game-planning perspective, but he also credited Houston for having senior leadership that could help the team have a promising season.
For his team, which is coming off its first playoff appearance since 2005, Crotwell feels the Confederates can’t afford to hang their heads and feel sorry for themselves after one game. He said he liked the word “unforgiving” when it was used to describe the competition in the region, which includes three-time state champion Noxubee County, which won the 2014 state title, and eight-time state champion Louisville, which is back in Class 4A after two years in Class 3A.
Crotwell said Louisville presents a similar challenge to Houston in that the Wildcats have a lot of speed on defense. He anticipates a lot of man-to-man coverage from M.C. Miller’s Louisville squad. On offense, he believes the Wildcats will be balanced and will try at times to spread the Confederates out by putting three or four wide receivers in pass patterns.
“Our kids have proven to be resilient in the face of adversity time and again,” Crotwell said. “I would expect the same here. I know they are going to play their tails off regardless of the circumstance or situation. They always have. I wouldn’t expect anything less.”
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Adam Minichino is the former Sports Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.