The Auburn High football team will work to take another step forward on both sides of the ball when it travels to face a struggling Smiths Station team on Friday.
The Tigers (6-1 overall, 3-1 region) will line up against a Panthers team (0-7, 0-5) that has managed only 17 points all season and has given up 40 or more points in six of seven games.
AHS head coach Adam Winegarden said the focus is really on the bigger picture and what the Tigers are trying to accomplish as a program.
"We respect every team we play. We respect what they do. We have to be prepared to defend and move the football in order to have a chance to win no matter who we play," he said. "The big thing is this: Your thought process cannot be about the team you’re playing; it’s got to be about the bigger picture. The bigger picture is us being the best team we can be and competing at the highest level. So it’s really not about the opponent."
Winegarden has stressed the "process" of improving each game as a team all season. The defense took a big step forward to that end last week in the Tigers' 27-0 shutout of Lee, a team that had scored 40 or more points for four-straight weeks.
"Lee was going to give us a lot of formations and if you don’t line up correctly they can out-leverage you with their athletes and they can get the space and score very fast," he said. "So we needed to, first of all, make sure that we lined up correctly and leveraged the football correctly to give us a chance to make plays, and then we had to tackle well.
"To do that over the course of a game, that takes extreme concentration level every play because if you misfit one time they could score."
Winegarden added that the defense has gotten progressively better.
"I just think it’s been that steady improvement like we’ve talked about all year where you’re taking another step up the staircase," he added. "We just want to play a little bit better each week and that’s what we can control, and each game should be our next best performance."
Speaking of the offense, Winegarden said he's like to see a complete game.
"I don’t feel like we’ve played a complete in all phases as a team this year," he said. "We need to play four quarters of ball and we need to execute well in the run game and the throwing game. Last Friday night, I thought we threw the ball effectively, but we didn’t run the ball as well as I thought we could have or should have in the ball game and put both of that together.
"And a lot of that had to do with Lee. Lee had a good defense. I’d like to see us execute in all phases."