Patriots preparing for ground-oriented Titans

Published 10:09 pm Tuesday, September 15, 2009

The Patriots trailed Holy Spirit 7-6 late in the first quarter before Maurice Tate picked off an errant Titan pass and took it the distance to give Linden the lead. The Pats never looked back en route to a 54-13 win. That was 2008.

Tate is gone, as are most of the players and coaching staff that took Holy Spirit to a playoff berth a season ago.

Now, Linden head coach Andro Williams is prepared for a much different Holy Spirit team, one who – under the guidance of veteran head coach Jack Hankins – he believes is better than its 2008 predecessor.

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“We’re preparing for a well-coached football team,” Williams said. “They have a different identity than what they had last year. I think they’re better.”

The Titans of 2008 were known for their spread attack and penchant for throwing the ball all over the field. Under Hankins, the Titans boast a more traditional, run first offense that they have ridden to a 3-0 record.

“Jack Hankins has been in the business a long time and those kids are buying into his system,” Williams said. “They are not a team that is going to beat themselves. You’ve got to play sound for the entire ball game.”

While Williams’ defense was tested through the air frequently against the Titans a season ago, the group is spending much of its week learning how to slow a running attack that has proven fruitful for the Titans in the early portions of the season.

“They are going to throw a lot of option at you,” Williams said. “They’re quarterback does a great job. He’s not going to do anything to hurt their football team.”

As the Patriots move deeper into region play, Williams continues to focus much of his efforts on addressing key areas of concern on his football team.

“We tried to correct our special teams (last week against A.L. Johnson). We did get better,” Williams said. “We’re continuing to work on our offensive line and keeping our intensity the entire time.”

While the team has had minor areas to address on the field, the greatest concern for Williams has come with the players who are not yet on the field.

“We’re just trying to build depth, get some other kids some reps,” Williams said. “I think we are where we need to be. We are just not nearly where we need to be going. We’ve got to build some depth. We’re just one or two injuries away from having some serious problems.”

Friday’s game at Holy Spirit also marks the first time the Patriots will face a Class 1A, Region 3 opponent on the road this season. Williams believes the team’s previous experiences in away games have helped to prepare it for the environment it will encounter Friday night in Tuscaloosa.

“We really feel like that game against Cottage Hill is going to help us on our trip to Tuscaloosa,” Williams said.