Hornets searching for sting

Published 10:48 pm Tuesday, September 2, 2008

John Essex head coach Fentress Means was impressed with his team’s presence and work ethic at practice Tuesday. The second-year coach viewed Tuesday’s practice as a small triumph, believing it served as an indicator of the changing environment within the program.

“I think they’re in a pretty good mood. They realize it is just one game and we’ve got nine more,” Means said. “They didn’t build the Great Wall in one night.”

“They want it. You can see it in some people’s faces that they want it,” senior wide receiver and Zackary Fluker said of the difference between this year’s team and those of previous seasons.

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Means said the Hornets took some positives from Friday’s 40-0 loss to A.L. Johnson and have started making adjustments for this week’s game at Holy Spirit.

“The positive is that we didn’t allow them to score but 14 more points the second half,” Means said. “We were in the wrong defensive assignments a couple times and we were shooting the wrong gaps.”

In addition to the successful halftime adjustments, Means said he was pleased with the emergence of some of his younger players.

“We brought in a couple younger guys and I saw some signs of life in those guys, especially Jarvis Edwards,” Means said. Edwards, a seventh grader, is expected to see some time during Friday’s game.

The Hornets faced a run-heavy offense against the Eagles last week, but will likely see a great deal of passing when it travels to Holy Spirit this week.

“I know they’re probably going to run the spread offense,” Means said. In anticipation of that, his defense will give a different look than it boasted during the season opener.

“This week we moved Zack (Fluker) from strong safety back to free safety so he can see the field better,” Means said. “We should also do a whole lot better on the defensive front as far as pressure.”

“I was getting used to strong safety, but they felt I’d be better at free,” Fluker said.

The move of Fluker to the free safety spot will require his younger brother, Zameke Fluker, to shift to the strong safety position.

“(Zameke) is always arguing with me. But it’s fun to be back there and have somebody you can teach,” the elder Fluker said of the experience of sharing the defensive backfield with his brother.

Means made no excuses for his team’s performance, but did express his belief that some of the young squad’s struggles were largely the result of first-game anxiety.

“A lot of that had to do with first-time jitters and a couple guys playing different positions than they played last year,” Means said. “It’s a young season, but I think our worst game is behind us. I told our guys they’ve got to grow up fast.”

Zackary Fluker was also confident in his team’s ability to move forward, citing last week as an anomaly.

“I don’t think we fell,” he said. “It was just confusion. It was like a dream and we woke up that night.”