SALTILLO – Saltillo High football coach Greg May says it has been trial by fire for many of his players the past two seasons.
The Tigers have won only 11 games in the past five seasons, and were just 2-8 last season. Those tough experiences for 13 returning starters, however, have paid off in the Tigers’ 2-0 start this season.
“We got a lot of kids that have been there some, and some for even three years that have been playing a lot,” said May, who is in his third year as the Saltillo head coach.
“It’s been trial by fire for a lot of the players the past two years. A combination of experience and just a better overall team concept since I’ve been here have led to our good start. Those are the two biggest factors for a really good start.”
Not to mention, a strong defense. The Tigers have only allowed six points in two games, and shut out Lee County rival Mooreville in Week 1. On Thursday night, they lambasted Caledonia 49-6.
“We’ve just been playing good defense,” May said. “We’ve been tackling pretty well. I think we’re pretty deep overall on defense.
“All 11 of them are doing what we expect of them.”
Led by brothers Rashad and Quad Freeman, the Saltillo defense has held Mooreville to just 90 total yards and allowed a single touchdown to Caledonia.
Rashad Freeman returned a fumble 32 yards for a touchdown against Mooreville, while his younger brother, Quad, had 18 tackles and was in on at least one sack against Caledonia.
He would have also recorded a safety on Thursday if it were not for an inadvertent whistle negating the play.
The defense will need to be on next Friday when the Tigers travel to defending Class 2A champion Baldwyn.
“They’re always strong and always going to be strong,” May said. “They always got really good skill people, and they also have a great quarterback.”
“You can’t make many mistakes against them. They will make you pay on defense because of their overall (offensive) speed.”
What has been a strong point for Saltillo this season is its offensive line.
O-line steps it up
“When we played the other night against Mooreville, the offensive line really stepped up, if you will, and I really felt like they are doing what they should be doing,” May said.
“They were blocking pretty well coming off the ball (Thursday night). … The offensive line has really improved a lot from this time last year.”
May said he expects his team to be ready for next week’s “big game” with Baldwyn.
“It’s a big rivalry for us. We have to pick up our level of play. That’s what I challenged them to do today (Friday): to pick up their level of play.
“Everything has got to line up right for us to have a chance to beat them.”
John Wilbert/NEMS Daily Journal