After suffering two tough road defeats to two of the top teams in the state, first-year head coach Brad Wallace is excited to play in their friendly confines.
“I feel like I haven’t seen this stadium in forever, even though we practice in it every week,” Wallace said. “I am excited about it. This is my first home game. I think our kids are excited. We had two rough road games that we had to play in Leeds and Munford. I think home will be a little better for them this week. We are excited and our kids are excited about being here. We are just ready to roll with it on Friday.
The senior players showed a sense of urgency this week as they practiced in pads Monday through Wednesday. Wallace is confident his team is where they need to be going into tonight’s game.
“We stayed in pads an extra day this week,” Wallace said. “The seniors actually wanted to do that and I agreed with them 100 percent. After we finished up practice on Wednesday, we actually got to where we needed to be for this week. We have gotten better and we took another step (Wednesday). We are still nowhere near where we need to be, but the kids know what we are trying to do and what the coaches are about. I think they are working for us right now. As long as we can keep a positive set of mind going with them we can always get better every week. “
The Golden Bears (0-2, 0-1) fell to arch-rival Munford, 37-12 last week. Going into this week’s game, Lincoln focused on improving what they were doing wrong.
“We went back to fundamentals this week, we had a lot more group time,” Wallace said. “We worked on us this week. To be honest with you, yeah, we know that we have a game on Friday, but we worked on us. It is a hard thing to do to come off a big loss like that and not focus on the next game, but we decided as a coaching staff that we needed to sit down and figure out ways to get us better instead of mainly worrying about a game this Friday. That didn’t mean that we didn’t game plan. We worked on getting our fundamentals a little better this week.”
Offensively, Lincoln has struggled as they only scored 18 points in the first two games. Last week, turnovers and penalties didn’t allow the Golden Bears to get into a groove. Wallace hopes scaling some things back will help the Golden Bears production.
“We worked on our offense,” Wallace said. “We sat back and we had a long staff meeting on Sunday and talked about making it simpler for these kids this week. Let’s don’t give them a bunch of stuff and let’s just let them play football this week instead of doing as much thinking and lining up quick. We are still going to do our tempo, but I think we are going with the best things that we do and just put it all together. We got the kids on board with us on that and took a lot of the thought process out of the game. That doesn’t mean that we aren’t going to add it back in later on, we just simplified things this week.”
The Bulldogs (1-1, 0-1) enters tonight’s game looking to get back on the right track. Last week, Anniston fell to area foe Cleburne County 36-12.
“They are a very athletic group of guys,” Wallace said. “They have a good running back and skill guys. The guy that catches my eye right off the back is the right tackle for them. He is an aggressive, nasty player. What I mean in nasty, he is not going out there to commit penalties, and he gets after it every play. I think they have a bunch of guys that are hungry for a win and they have a bunch of guys that are putting on the line every day trying to get ready. That is what I have been preaching to our kids. I told them, ‘Nothing is going to be given to you; you are going to have to fight for it all the way throughout the season. It showed up a little bit on Wednesday. Our kids came back out and worked. We put the pads back on and that is what we are trying to get out of this. We are trying to get our work mentality and we trying to get our hard hats, so we can go out there and get something accomplished.”
The first two games, the Golden Bears have struggled in the first half. Lincoln had three turnovers in the first half of last week’s game. Wallace believes if his team can put together a complete game they will have a chance to win their first game of the season.
“No mistakes in the first quarter,” Wallace said. “That is my biggest one right now, we have to hold on to the football and be fundamentally sound.”