AVON PARK - After a disastrous season-opening loss to Frostproof last week, the Avon Park football team is determined to bounce back in a big way in tonight's home game against Mulberry.
The Red Devils have been hard at work in practice and are looking forward to redeeming themselves infront of the home fans.
"To say I'm surprised they came back, I'm not," said Avon Park first-year Coach Wade Jackson, "They have been positive the whole week and the coaching staff has been preaching the whole year that we are going to stay positive."
Jackson knew that his young squad would have some growing pains, but admits that he was not expecting to get beat 48-12 by the Bulldogs.
"We are going to overcome this and work hard," said Jackson. "That's what they did this week."
Mulberry runs a Wing-T offense, which is similar to what Frostproof used.
"We are expecting them to do pretty much what Frostproof did," said Jackson. "Especially after seeing the game film."
Jackson pointed out that they expect Mulberry to come out and throw the ball some. They have worked on formation recognition and getting into the proper defense.
The Red Devils have also worked on assignments, knowing where they need to be and tackling this week.
"We have gone back to the basics," said Jackson. "We have to worry about executing on our side instead of worrying about everybody else."
On the defensive side of the ball, the Panthers utilize both a three and four-man front.
Avon Park has faced both this year as Tenoroc incorporated a three man front with five linebackers in the Kickoff Classic and Frostproof mainly used a four-man front.
The main priority for the Red Devils is blocking assignments and getting the running backs to hit the open hole quickly. This was a problem against Frostproof as the line produced holes, but they closed up before the running backs were able to get through.
"They were a little hesitant and did not completely trust what was there," the red Devil coach said. "This is something we have worked extensively on. We have to run the ball, hit the right hole and get through it quickly."
"We have gone back to the basics and we worked on our execution and assignments."
Avon Park will continue to be a run-first team and will incorporate some pass plays with the running game as Jackson does not believe at this time they have the personnel to throw the football down the field on a consistent basis.
"Sometimes you run into a team like Frostproof," said Jackson. "That has eight or nine guys that can take it to the house at any time. I don't see that in Mulberry, but they are a big team, but I can't see why if we play the way I know we are capable that we do not come out with a victory."
Mulberry lost to Sebring in the Kickoff Classic 55-7 and lost last week to Fort Meade by a score of 16-0.
The game is at 7:30 tonight at Joe Franza Stadium.
Mulberry at Avon Park
Where: Joe Franza Stadium
When: Tonight at 7:30