9/20/2013 6:00:00 AM Tigers in must-win home game, coach says
Kingman Academy quarterback Austin Tomlinson is brought down by a Yuma Catholic tackler in a Sept. 13 home game.
Matt Hollinshead Miner Staff Reporter
KINGMAN - Wally Mueller remains frustrated by his offensive linemen's minimal progress.
Even this past Tuesday was indicative of that. During the Kingman Academy football team's practice, he was all over his linemen. He did what he could to keep his temper cooled.
The linemen are a work in progress. Mueller feels today's 7 p.m. home game against Joy Christian High School is a must-win for his team to get back on track.
"I have no doubt we're going to be facing a very worthy opponent," the Tigers head coach said. "Hopefully, our offensive line comes out enlightened. I think that beating we took last week was an eye-opener for some of these kids. They realize now that it's just not automatic when we take the field. I think they were resting on last year's successes."
Last Friday's 59-7 home-opening loss against Yuma Catholic High School still weighs down on Kingman Academy. The offensive line did virtually nothing, and the defense got trampled all night.
"That Yuma Catholic game was lost on Yuma's first possession, when they went for it on for fourth-and-long," Mueller said. "We thought it was going to be three-and-out, and they lined up to go for it. They attacked us from there.
"These kids had never been on a receiving end of something that powerful. It shocked them. They got the message loud and clear. We've got some guys that are beat up, banged up. That kind of weakens us a little bit, but I don't think there's a whole lot we can't hang with if these kids set their mind to it."
Even if Joy Christian (2-1, coming off a 52-28 loss at Arizona Lutheran Academy last Friday) may not be in the same league as Yuma Catholic, talent-wise, KAHS' approach hasn't changed. Mueller still has his concerns.
"We're hot and cold. One play, the linemen will come out and do a fantastic job. Then they'll back off three plays, rather than just keep bringing the heat," Mueller said. "We don't have the intensity that needs to be there, the consistent intensity. Right now, a lot of it is a confidence thing in their mind."
The need for urgency is no secret, and the linemen know that. Seniors Ross Totten and Dakota Lancaster, as well as juniors Ethan Tibbetts and Wyatt Schmidt, just to name a few, know they'll have to step up to protect guys like senior quarterback Austin Tomlinson and senior running back Quinn Garcia. Tomlinson and Garcia can produce if the linemen start blocking more forcefully.
The linemen know they have to kick up the aggression a couple notches.