Saints going for two

Published 12:00 am Thursday, September 6, 2007

The Selma Times-Journal

It’s tree-shaking time for the Selma football team.

Although the Saints’ record so far is perfect, the way they’ve played is far from.

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After all, it was a 1-0 start last year that was the beginning of a 4-6 season and a gradual slide out of playoff contention.

The coaching staff has been working since the spring to create a more, shall we say, saintly attitude among the players.

But that’s not necessarily an endorsement of niceties once the team hits the field.

“We had so many screw ups that kept Southside in the game,” coach Brian Montgomery said. “We’re making changes and shifting things around. We’re starting guys that are going to do what we ask them to do.”

The first half of last week’s game was all Southside. The biggest – and perhaps the only – factor that played into Selma’s win was the sheer number of their player rotation.

Once the Saints got past turnovers, overthrown passes, dropped balls and busted running plays, the result was a gut-wrenching 8-6 win.

That simply cannot happen this week against Jeff Davis, Montgomery said.

Last year, the Saints’ 20-0 loss to the Volunteers was much closer than the score indicated. Turnovers and missed assignments gave Selma its first region loss.

The Volunteers have gone away from the formula that got them into the playoffs and are trying a different look this season.

“They key to stopping them is the quarterback,” Montgomery said. “This year, they’re trying to spread people out. They don’t have that double tight, wing look. They’re not trying to run options at you.”

Vols QB Courtney Burkett is still a dangerous runner, and the Saints have to worry about him pulling the ball down and running when plays break down.

Given that this is his first year running the spread, that may happen a lot.

Even though there was balance on offense last week, to say there is a lot Selma needs to work on would be understating it.

First things first, Montgomery would rather not be answering questions about why balls were fumbled in key situations.

“The offense has got to execute,” he said. “We’ve got to hold on to the football. We don’t coach kids to get close to the goal line and fumble the football or make bad pitches.”

Overall, however, Montgomery was pleased with the team’s effort. His players didn’t roll over and quit on a game that could easily have swayed the other direction.

That’s a good sign for the future, but it’s not enough.

The players have to feel the pressure is always on.

“We’re changing personnel around and putting people in different positions,” Montgomery said. “Pressure busts pipes, and it busts people, too. They know they’ve got to do right or somebody will come in right behind them and take their job.”