The Cougars will open the 2019 season on the road.
With the preseason now in the rearview mirror, the Durant Cougars are ready to go to work in the regular season.
Durant’s starting things off with a business trip to King High School this Friday night. The Cougars are fresh off of a 28-12 loss at Lake Gibson last Friday night and, regardless of the final score, head coach Mike Gottman was pleased with the team’s efforts at large. He especially praised the way the first-teamers performed against the Braves.
“I thought we got some valuable reps in Friday night,” Gottman said. “We did some good things. Had a really good drive to start the game. Took it down and scored. On the next drive, we took it down and got stopped on downs. On the next drive, we scored right before the half. I was pretty pleased with our first offense.”
It was the team’s first chance to get comfortable running the flexbone offense, which Gottman said Durant will use heavily in 2019. Fullback Eli Reed, in particular, seemed to have taken to it with a 98-yard performance. The focus on the flexbone means Durant’s offense should be as run-friendly as ever and a more detailed look at it, including a highlight of the formation’s signature play, can be found in Durant’s section of the Plant City Observer’s 2019 Football Guide.
The game gave the inexperienced defense and special teams units a better idea of how to do things going forward, whether that be lining up correctly, making the right reads or applying skills covered in practice to the real deal.
“Defensively, we just need to do a little bit better job at getting lined up,” Gottman said. “They played pretty hard and we made some nice plays, but the lack of consistency in just getting lined up and reading our keys, we’ve got to get better at that.”
The preseason experience may prove to be an edge the Cougars have over this week’s opponent. King and Riverview were supposed to play a game last Friday night but, like many Hillsborough and Pinellas county schools, that game was called off due to an unfavorable weather forecast.
After a rocky start in 2018 with losses to Middleton and at Strawberry Crest, the Lions finally turned a corner with their new head coach, Jon Thompson, and won some games for the first time in several seasons. Unfortunately for the Lions (as well as Blake High School), their 2018 season had an even rockier ending when the penultimate King-Blake game ended in an all-out brawl that forced officials to end the game in the second quarter and prompted both teams to forfeit the following week’s season finales ahead of time.
King did not keep detailed stats for the 2018 season on MaxPreps.com, which is the official statistical provider for the FHSAA.
Friday night’s game was originally supposed to be Durant’s home opener, but this extremely rainy August weather did the Cougars’ field no favors. A “crater” opened up in the north end of the football field in front of the scoreboard and, while it is in the process of being fixed, the field wasn’t going to be ready for Friday’s game and both schools agreed to move the game to King. Durant does expect the field to be ready for next week’s scheduled home game against Riverview. King High School is located at 6815 N. 56th St., Tampa, just west of Tampa Bay Tech.
OTHER AREA ACTION
Plant City at Jesuit, 7:30 p.m.
Strawberry Crest at Leto, 7:30 p.m.