REL, RSS open with big goals
Both Robert E. Lee and Ross S. Sterling football programs have the same goals for this season even if both arrived at this point in different ways.
REL went 4-6 and just missed a Class 5A II playoff spot behind a high-octane offense while Sterling went winless in one the tougher 6A districts.
Tonight, both teams begin a new journey with a hoped-for improvement and potentially a playoff spot in mind when Sterling hosts Clear Creek at Stallworth Stadium and REL plays Houston Westbury at Butler Stadium.
Both games kickoff at 7 p.m.
REL gets another shot at Westbury following a 55-6 win last year at Stallworth Stadium. Ganders head coach Tim Finn enters year three with a 5-14 record with the program and expects more this season.
“We know they have quite a few lettermen back from last year,” Finn said. “We are more worried about the things we do and doing it right for the first time against live action.”
Finn said last year’s win helped launch the Ganders to their best season since 2012 and could build on that result this year.
The Ganders have a strong backfield with quarterback Ijenea Wooley and junior running back Keke Davis leading the way.
However, the improving play in the trenches will be most important to gauge.
“We’re hoping to win the battle up front and that’s going to be key for the whole season,” Finn said.
Finn said his team won’t enter this contest with overconfidence.
“We haven’t proved anything yet,” Finn said. “We have to stay hungry and motivated. That’s not something that happens on Thursday and Friday. It has to happen all week long.”
Sterling, which went 2-8 in 2018 including a 48-28 loss to Clear Creek, hopes to see improvement coming off last week’s scrimmage at Barbers Hill.
“We had some missed assignment, but those are things that are correctable,” Sterling head coach Robert Toomer said. “Barbers Hill treated it like a game and our offensive line had some communication problems that we fixed. I just wanted to see the effort and it was there.”
They will have to against a disciplined Clear Creek.
“It’s going to come down to us not shooting ourselves in the foot,” Toomer said. “They are big on both sides of the ball and they do things well over there. They are a timing offense and they get the ball out quick. We will have our work cut out for us.”
Toomer believes the Rangers secondary could neutralize Clear Creek’s receiving corps and the Sterling speed may come in handy overall.
“Their defense is fundamentally sound and are always in the right place,” Toomer said. “It’s one of those deals where we have to get them out of the comfort zone and get them to move out of their base defense.”
Offensively, Clear Creek makes the defense cover the whole field according to Toomer.
“The big deal is if we have them at third-and-8, we have to get them off the field,” Toomer said. “If they keep their drive, momentum and timing we have to break that timing with our defense.”