New head coach Keith Etheredge's tenure as Auburn High's head coach got off to a strong start, as the Tigers took home convincing 45-0 shuout of Park Crossing last weekend.
The game was a blowout but Etheredge points out that there are actually some disadvantages to lopsided games.
“We played with a running clock in the fourth quarter, so you're looking at only 34 to 35 plays,” said Etheredge. “You want to see more of those guys."
Despite the shortened playing time, Etheredge was pleased from what he did see from his team.
“I thought our defense and quarterback play was good,” he said.
One thing that has made it more difficult to let everyone see meaningful playing time is the size of team's roster. The nearly 160 students that are on the team make it hard to play them all, or in the case of blowouts like last week, it is hard to see much from the starters because of the rotation.
That means that when the Tigers take on rival Opelika this Friday, it will be the starters first in-season experience of likely playing all four quarters.
“They (Opelika) are very athletic and very well coached,” said Etheredge. “They have some real good players.”
The Bulldogs are coming off a gut-wrenching 30-21 loss to Callaway High School, the defending Georgia 2A state champions. That game came down to the final minutes, and coach Etheredge expressed respect for the way it was played.
“That game could've easily gone either way," he said. "You know, if they played that game with a lot of passion they will play even harder this week.”
This will be the first game between Opelika and Auburn that Etheredge has coached. Despite his lack of experience, Etheredge says that he has seen the energy and support from the community already.
“The community has been great," he said. "The leadership everywhere from Mayor (Ron) Anders to our superintendent Dr. Cristen Herring, to principal Dr. Shannon Pignato, to athletic director Dan Norton, everyone has been extremely supportive.”
While Auburn’s first game may have been a shutout, Etheredge knows they still have plenty to work on in order to get a win over Opelika.
“We had three touchdowns called back last week because of penalties," he said. "We need to minimize those and turnovers.”
The stage is set on Friday night as the Bulldogs take on the Tigers underneath the lights of Bulldog Stadium. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m.
“It's gonna be a great football game,” said Etheredge. “It's gonna be a situation where whoever goes out there and plays with the most heart and makes the fewest mistakes will win the game.”