Photo by Shawn Byrne.
KINGMAN – For the second straight week, two local high schools will meet on the gridiron. The Kingman High and Kingman Academy football teams meet at 7 p.m. at Kingman High School.
“I like playing in town games,” said Tigers head coach Dan Stroup. “They’re important for us and for the community. We’re looking forward to it, but it’s a little bit different than people would think. They just happen to be the opponent this week. It’s one game at a time, one week at a time and one preparation at a time.”
The Bulldogs (1-1) and the Academy (0-1) enter tonight’s contest looking to bounce back from a loss last Friday. Kingman dropped a 38-0 decision to Lee Williams, while the Tigers lost a close one to Bourgade Catholic, 28-20.
Kingman has to face a city rival in consecutive weeks and head coach Cam Wierson talked about how difficult that is for the team.
“We could easily petition our way into 2A football – competition wise we’re a 2A football team,” he said. “And we’re dealing with injuries from having to play a 4A team. We’re banged up bad. This game against the Academy would probably be tilted in our favor if we’re healthy.
“But luck would have it, the Academy is going to catch us when we’re not at full strength,” Wierson continued. “‘The city championship’ is a great idea. But the way the community has set these schools up, we have no business playing Lee. It’s not fair to our kids. Lee has no excuse but to be a 4A playoff team, and it’s a pretty major disadvantage to make 2A programs step into the ring with 4A playoff contenders.”
The Bulldogs will be without three two-way starters tonight. While some coaches would be happy to face a team that is missing players, that isn’t the case for Stroup.
“They won’t be at full force. A lot of people would relish that, but I don’t,” he said. “I want teams to be at their best against you because that’s how you get better.”
However, the Tigers can’t focus on that fact. They have to get better as a team and make sure they don’t do the same things that hurt them in last week’s loss.
“Hopefully we won’t have penalties and turn the ball over,” Stroup said. “Those are the two main things in our loss. We want to improve on those things.”
The Tigers have also spent time watching film of Kingman High at Lee Williams and Stroup is well aware of the fact that the Bulldogs like to run the ball.
“They’re physical and they get after it,” he said of Kingman High. “The key matchup for us will be how well their secondary plays against our receivers. For us, we have to shut down the running game.”
On the flip side of the coin, Wierson and the Bulldogs are determined to keep giving 100 percent on every play this season.
“We’re staying the course,” he said. “We’re focused on all-out effort from start to finish. The scoreboard doesn’t matter. Our effort does.”