This week, Sequoyah coach James Teter and his Sprayberry counterpart, Billy Shackelford, were both stressing that lesson to their players as they prepared to meet Friday night at Skip Pope Stadium.
While Sequoyah (2-1) hasn’t had as big of a problem beating itself, turnovers and penalties were certainly a factor in the Chiefs’ only loss. Cherokee ran an interception back for a touchdown, on its way to a 34-14 victory during the second week of the season.
Not only that, but Sequoyah’s 32-28 win at Riverwood last week was a lot closer than it should have been, in what Teter called an “ugly win.” Missed tackles were the most costly problem of the game as the Chiefs seemed unable to stop the Raiders on third down.
“From an offensive point of view, we are still just trying to get better,” Teter said. “We’ve talked to our guys about foolish penalties and things like that, but it’s also getting more and more used to what we are doing. We started out this season with a brand-new backfield, and our kids are just figuring out where they are going.”
In preparing for Sprayberry, Teter has been looking at what the Yellow Jackets have done in the past. The teams met twice last season, with Sequoyah winning both times.
“It helps a little bit because you know some of the things that they have done in the past,” Teter said. “Each week, we look at what the opponents do and what we have to do to adjust.”
Shackelford said that four games into the season, his Yellow Jackets (1-3) aren’t where he would like them to be, but they’re at least moving in the right direction.
“I have seen us make steps in the right direction each week, but we aren’t where we need to be this year,” he said. “It’s a never-ending process. I don’t think any coach in the country is pleased with where his team is, and I’m no exception. We have to get better, but I will never be satisfied with where we are at.”
Sprayberry beat Forsyth Central a week ago for its first win of the season. After turning the ball over a combined 10 times in their first two games, the Yellow Jackets cut that number to one in their last two. The result was an 18-point loss to Lassiter and a 27-point victory over Forsyth Central.
“Self-inflicted wounds are something that are an issue with us in all three facets of the game,” said Shackelford, who went on to say that penalties, turnovers, missed tackles and busted assignments were putting the Yellow Jackets in a hole.
“I think, when you get those things fixed, a lot of the other things take care of themselves. The winning, the good defense, the good offense, the kicking game all take care of themselves when you eliminate all the self-inflicted wounds. I think we are doing as much to stop ourselves as our opponents are.”
Still, Shackelford said it isn’t all gloomy.
“We are doing a lot of things right,” he said. “We just need to do more of those things and do them more often.”