Smith-Cotton football usually has a different motto each week that helps the team prepare for its opponent.
Last week’s motto was to be physical and the Tigers did that in a 26-21 win against O’Hara.
This week’s motto is “focus with a purpose.”
With this week being Homecoming and the opponent being Clinton, which runs the triple option, that motto seems to fit this week.
“The coaches always stress to focus but this week we’re focusing with a purpose so we’ve got to know our purpose,” said senior Carlton Homan.
Homan will be part of the defensive unit responsible for focusing on individual jobs in order to stop Clinton’s running attack.
O’Hara brought in a speedy running game last week, but S-C only allowed about three and a half yards per carry.
“You have to maintain that edge and you have to contain them in so that your four from the backside can get there,” said S-C coach Ryan Boyer. “That’s something we can carry over and build off of.”
The Cardinals’ way of running is a new challenge for the Tigers, but they’ve been able to stop their opponents’ offensive strengths for the most part this season.
“I think we just need to make sure we’re playing physical and just reading our keys, that’s the main thing,” Homan said.
The Tigers aren’t just trying to stay focused on their assignments on the defensive side; they are trying to just focus on the game itself with all of the Homecoming festivities happening this week.
Homan said the team has kept its attention on preparing for Friday.
“Surprisingly,” he said. “I thought we’d have kind of an off week. We usually do during Homecoming because of all of the distractions, but we’ve really stayed focused in this week.”
Clinton is one of three teams standing in the Tigers’ way of a West Central Conference title.
S-C is tied at the top of the standings with Center. The Tigers host Clinton and St. Pius X before playing at Center to finish off the regular season.
“It’s exciting but it’s nerve-racking at the same time because any game can kind of ruin it for you,” Homan said.
The Cardinals come into Friday’s game 3-3 overall and 2-2 in the conference, which puts them fourth.
Clinton won a combined three games the past two years.
“They’re hungry,” Boyer said. “I told our guys, I kind of compare it to where we were at at this point last year.”
S-C was 3-3 last season before winning three straight to end the regular season.
Clinton will attempt to pull off the same feat.
“You like to see that,” Boyer said. “You want that competition week in and week out. … It gets you postseason tough.”
Jason Strickland can be reached at 660-530-0147 or on Twitter @J_Strick_Sports.