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Essex looks for third straight win

John Essex is looking to do something that has eluded them for quite some time; put together a legitimate winning streak. The Hornets picked up only two victories in 2008 and only one the season before that.

“Of the kids I have on my roster, nobody has won more than two games in a season,” John Essex head coach Lenoise Richey said.

Friday night against Autaugaville, the Hornets have an opportunity to win their third consecutive contest.

The Hornets hung 14 unanswered points on Sunshine in a come-from-behind win two weeks ago before outpacing J.F. Shields 46-2 last Friday night.

“They’re finally starting to believe. They’re excited. They really are,” Richey said of the change in his team’s mentality over the last two weeks.

In order to overcome an Autaugaville team that already has a win over Billingsley — who beat the Hornets 50-18 earlier this season — the Hornets will need to avoid the pitfalls that have plagued them in each of their four losses.

“We’ve got to be disciplined in terms of what we do,” Richey said. “We have to execute what we do and do it well.”

On the offensive side of the ball, a key part of the Hornets’ execution will be the accuracy and efficiency of their passing game.

“The second key is going to be pass efficiency. It’s pretty much the relationship between the quarterback and the wide receivers,” Richey said. “Our biggest issue in the passing game has been trust. We’ve done a good job of that here lately.”

The development of the relationship between quarterback Letrelle Griffin and wideout A.J. Bennett really showed against Shields. In that contest, Bennett caught six passes for 111 yards and a pair of touchdowns.

The ability to strike for the big play in both the passing and running games is important to the Essex attack. Equally important, however, is the team’s ability to apply pressure on the defensive side of the ball.

“We’ve got to be aggressive. We’re not going to sit back and wait for them to score,” Richey said. “We’re going to be aggressive in all phases of the game; special teams, offensively and defensively.”

The biggest difference for the Hornets between their losses and their wins has been their composure. In each of their losses, Essex struggled to maintain its intensity and focus following bad breaks.

“If the first break goes against us, we’re not going to get rattled or shook. We’re going to keep our composure and continue to play the game,” Richey said. “Anytime you’re talking about kids, the big thing is momentum. We’ve got two in a row. School spirit has increased. We believe now more than ever. We’re trying to keep that going.”