The Murfreesboro Rattlers fell to 0-2 on the season with a 42-6 defeat at the hands of the Horatio Lions last week.
However, Rattler Head Coach Marc McRae remains upbeat on the improvement he views his squad has shown in the early season.
“I thought we played a pretty good first half of football [against Horatio],” said McRae, stating that they have been challenging the student athletes to focus on “bringing forth the effort that it takes to be successful. For one half of football [Friday night], I thought we brought forth the effort that it takes to be successful.”
The score going into halftime of the game was 8-0 in Horatio’s favor after a scoreless first quarter.
“In the second half, we slacked off a little bit — and as soon as it happened, the floodgates opened, and here it comes,” McRae said of the 34 points scored against his team in the second half.
“One mistake compounds into two mistakes, which compounds into five mistakes, and the next thing you know you are down three scores. It was a snowball effect on us.”
McRae said that the team showed “dramatic improvement” from week one to week two “in a lot of areas.”
“We’re only going to keep getting better, and then eventually I think the scoreboard will follow. Overall, as a group, we performed better than the week before, and guys are actually getting it. That’s a definite positive, and we will try to keep our focus on that, because that is something we can control. We will try to get that much better from week two to week three … it’s all about us, and what we can do to improve, it will never be about anybody else. We just have to get better about the way we do our things.”
One example of that improvement came after a long touchdown run that was called back due to an illegal block in the second half.
“We’ve struggled with really jumping down each other’s throat, turning what was a good situation before the block in the back to a negative situation because we are so consumed with that last play we can’t actually move forward. But this week I saw guys building each other up, saying ‘hey, it’s all right, we got this’ and that slight shift in mindset is going to be something monumental for this team if we can continue to build off of that. That is what impressed me the most, and gave me the most hope moving forward. That’s the direction we are pushing, and the direction I think this team desperately needs.”
In the game the Rattlers were able to move the football on offense, with RBs Tyler Tomlinson and Michael Hughes combining for 139 yards on the ground.
“That has a lot with understanding what we are trying to do from a game plan perspective — getting just a more overall and general understanding. What we are trying to accomplish, the kids are understanding more and more each day on ‘how can we be more effective with the guys that we have’ and that is the direction we are trying to focus on and move forward with every day in practice,” said McRae.
McRae also is mindful that losses in non-conference games do not guarantee a bad season.
“That’s what these games are for, to show us the areas that need improvement, and to give us the opportunity to improve them moving into the conference season.”
Rattler QB J.C. Motley was 6/18 for 70 yards, and the senior also added the lone Murfreesboro score on the first play of the fourth quarter to make the score 22-6.
Zane Flatherty led the Rattlers with nine tackles while Bryle Fatheree added seven with on QB sack and Ethan Pickett added six.
While Murfreesboro was effective on offense, Horatio proved to be proficient with QB Zach Izzo rushing for 171 yards on 14 attempts and 4 TDs. RB Kelton Turner added 146 yards and a TD to the Lions’ 435 total yards rushing.
The Rattlers will face off against the Hampton Bulldogs this Friday at home. Hampton is 1-1 after a week one loss to Prescott and a 14-12 win over Fordyce last Friday night.
“They are a solid football team, they have athletes in just about every spot — we’re going to have to show up, and have a similar improvement from last week that we saw the week before. We can’t take a step back this week by any means. We have to continue pushing forward,” said McRae.
McRae added that Hampton runs a flex-bone offense that is similar to Horatio’s in core philosophy.
“They will get the ball in their playmakers’ hands, early and often.”
Defensively, McRae said that Hampton will rely on the speed and athleticism on defense, running a lot of man to man coverage sets. “They will force you to make plays, they’re not just going to sit back and react.”