Orangefield suffered its first loss of the season last week. The Bobcats lost a heartbreaker to Livingston surrendering the winning touchdown in the last minute of the game.
Coach Josh Smalley said it was a good football game, but little mistakes proved costly for his Bobcats. He reminded that the Livingston Lions are the defending district champions in their Class 4A, Division 1 district with most of their starters back, so against good teams like that Orangefield in a lower division cannot even afford to make small mistakes in the game.
That loss will be a learning experience for the Bobcats. Smalley commented, “We’ll get better as a coaching staff, we’ll get better as a team, but I’m not upset with the way our kids played we battled and fought against a really good football team, gave ourselves a chance to win at the end and we just didn’t make it happen. We’ll learn from it, we’ll grow, and we’ll move on to this week.”
This Friday Orangefield plays a familiar foe in the Buna Cougars. Smalley analyzed the Cougars’ offense which has changed with a new head coach from the conservative Wing T to the wide open Spread.
The Cougar offense starts with their starting quarterback Dylan Graffagnino who is a weapon. Graffagnino can run the ball, and he can make opposing tacklers look funny when they miss with his agility. Graffagnino missed Buna’s last game against Hardin-Jefferson, but is expected to play when Orangefield goes to Buna this Friday.
Graffagnino will also throw the football to two tall receivers Logan Moss and Kyler Stark. At running back is Dylan Rogalski who like Graffagnino will run behind a big offensive line led by Trace Marks and Kameron Theriot.
This will be one of the few times that the Bobcats will play an opponent that is bigger in the size of their lineman than they are, and Graffagnino can make opponents pay in a heartbeat for missing tackles. “Offensively they’re going to be tough to stop,” Smalley warned.
On defense Buna will probably adjust from its normal defensive three-man front in an attempt to slow the Bobcats’ running game according to Coach Smalley. He anticipates the Cougars playing a 6-2 goal line look.
The Orangefield coach has noticed Buna does not use a lot of two-way players which is unusual for a Class 3A school like the Cougars. Their defense is big up front just like the offensive line.
A defensive standout for the Cougars is Franklin Renfro at defensive end. Junior linebacker Kale Knox has been playing for Buna since he was a freshman so Smalley has seen a lot of him and more than the coach wanted to because Knox is a good football player who will make an impact. Moss does play two-way in the Buna secondary.
The Cougars will get after and hit opposing ball carriers, they will man-up in secondary coverage, and send pressure in the opponent’s backfield. Smalley expressed, “It’ll be a challenge to move the ball against them, I’ve seen people move the football, but I’ve also seen them stone people as well.”
The Bobcats want to bounce back from their first loss, while Buna is looking for its first win of the season. Orangefield needs to play better and not make the mistakes that the Bobcats did in the loss to Livingston.
Good tackling will be imperative for the Bobcats especially when trying to bring down Graffagnino. Coverage needs to be close on the Cougars two big receivers who will most likely have jump balls thrown to them.
Offensively, Orangefield cannot turn the ball over, and through three games the Bobcats have not committed a giveaway. Dumb penalties must be eliminated to avoid long yardage situations.
Coach Smalley believes it will be a battle between two old rivals. “We know it’s a tremendous challenge for us Friday night to play over there,” Smalley concluded.
-Dan Perrine, KOGT-