Suffering a disheartening loss is no way for a defending state champion to open a season.

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, September 1, 2004

But Morgan Academy head coach Robert Gartman is going to make sure his Senators are ready to play Friday night when they host Lee-Scott Academy.

Morgan Academy sustained a bruising defeat in their 2004 debut last Friday when they were beaten by Edgewood Academy, 22-13.

Gartman, however, said last week’s loss doesn’t mean the end of the road for the Senators. Morgan Academy suffered a second-week loss to Faith Academy and former head coach Robby James last year, then won 11 straight games including the AISA Class 3A state title game.

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“I told them not to worry about anything,” Gartman said. “I told them not to worry about the state championship, not to worry about other teams. If we prepare to play Friday night, everything else will take care of itself.”

The Senators are still a very young team with many players still trying to prove themselves, Gartman said. This week should go a long way into the team pulling together.

“This isn’t exactly a rebuilding year,” Gartman said. “But we’re not going to be able to pick up where we left off, either. We’ll be in the state title hunt by the end of the year.”

The Senators will find in Lee-Scott Academy a team with momentum after a 36-9 pounding of Kingwood last week. Morgan Academy also will face a solid, balanced offense led by quarterback Cale Dennis.

Dennis takes over the Lee-Scott offense after transferring from Auburn High School this summer. Lee-Scott will likely operate from the Wing-T, with a mixture of play action passes complementing its ground attack and misdirection game.

“They have quite a few good backs,” Gartman said. “They don’t really have any breakaway threats, but they can run.”

Although Dennis will likely see most of his playing time behind center, he also could play split end or running back. Gartman said the multi-talented standout would likely make an impact this week.

“I expect to see more of him this week,” Gartman said. “He’s no SEC prospect, but he’s a good one.”

Gartman and the rest of the Senators also can expect to see more of their own this week. Morgan Academy suffered several injuries in last week’s loss, including an ankle injury to starting quarterback Jeremy Smith. Gartman, however, said all the players who sustained injuries last week should be available Friday night.

Gartman said that much of Morgan Academy’s success on offense over the years has focused on catching opposing defenses out of position. However, he added, that won’t be the case this week.

“They’re a real sound defense,” he said. “We’re not going to catching anyone out of position. We’re going to have to line up and execute.

“We’ll be better than last week,” Gartman promised. “I don’t know how much better, but we’ll be better.”

Gartman added that his main concern this week was making sure his players remained positive.

“We were a little down this week, but I’m not going to let them stay down,” he said. “I might make them mad. I might hurt their feelings. I might even run it out of them. But I’m not going to let them get down.”