The O’Bannon High School football team is improving, but first year head coach Lynn Lang said his team is still a work in progress.
The Greenwaves (1-1) defeated Ray Brooks 14-0 last Friday. It was a great win for a program that lost 21 seniors from year’s team. The team is so young, Lang said, that many of their mistakes are expected. Wins like last Friday’s are to be celebrated, as well as each small victory during practice.
O’Bannon will look to make it two wins in a row when it hosts Amanda Elzy Friday night.
“We only have three or four players who played at all last year, so we are trying to get some experience” Lang said. “Every chance I get I put a ninth grader in.”
Led by quarterback Kaylon Swilley, Lang said he is pleased by the effort of all of his players.
Swilley is a naturally talented quarterback who is soaking up all the new information he can, Lang said. Along with players like tailback Zi’Terrean Smith, O’Bannon has a running attack that the coach expects to only get stronger and stronger.
Not surprisingly, one of the biggest problems of the offense has been ball security. The Greenwaves fumbled the ball three times during their opening season loss at Byhalia and three times against Ray Brooks last Friday.
Lang said mistakes like these can be corrected.
“There is a technique to carrying the ball,” Lang said. “You have to hold it high and tight. If you remember Tiki Barber (of the New York Giants), he had a fumbling problem and Coach Tom Coughlin corrected it by coaching the proper technique.”
Lang said his players will be used to holding onto a football.
“If a player on our team fumbles, they will be holding a football all day and every day. We are going to have players sign footballs out like a library book,” Lang said. “Taking care of a football is like taking care of a baby. You are responsible for it.”
While the offense is still a work in progress, Lang said his defense stepped up in the Greenwaves shutout over Ray Brooks.
Defensive players like cornerback Jaheim Grant and linebacker Kyris McDavid have done a good job of stopping their opponents’ rushing attack. The defense will have another challenge on their hand when they face Amanda Elzy this Friday.
Amanda Elzy brings a 2-0 record into O’Bannon High School. The Panthers defeated Simmons 8-6 in the season opener and then stormed back to defeat Leflore County 46-38 last Friday.
“Amanda Elzy is a strong team with a talented tailback. They were down big to LeFlore County but came back for the win.
This is going to be a big challenge for us.”
Lang said players like Curtis Austin, who has made a number of big plays for the Greenwaves during the first two games, will need to step up and play well.