Effort keys Bulldogs’ early season improvement

Photo: Richey Miller, clearchoicephoto.com

The Fayetteville Bulldogs’ motto for the season is “win every play; improve every day,” and that approach seems to be working through the first two games of the season.

After a 34-24 victory last Friday, Fayetteville (2-0) is right where Coach Daryl Patton hoped his Bulldogs would be going into week 3 and their first road trip of the year against the Muskogee (Okla.) Roughers on Friday.

Following the entertaining game, the major impression Patton took from the matchup was how hard his Bulldogs played. Mistakes were made for sure, but Patton felt his team’s effort made up for those mistakes and the final outcome of the game certainly supports his assessment.

Jays coach Ted LePage echoed Patton’s sentiments.

“I think both of our teams looked a little rough around the edges because we’re playing so many inexperienced kids,” LePage said. “But, Fayetteville’s not lacking in talent. Their quarterback doesn’t play like a first-year starter, and he has a lot of weapons. The big receiver is quite a target. You’re just going to see them get better.”

The big receiver LePage referred to is C.J. O’Grady, who caught two touchdown tosses from Bulldog quarterback Mitch Marshall and has four touchdown catches on the season. Marshall threw for 269 yards and two TDs to lift his two-game numbers to 31 of 47 attempts for 447 yards and 6 touchdowns.

What stood out from the stands was Fayetteville’s resiliency. When mistakes were made, the Bulldogs didn’t sulk or dwell on them. They kept on working and playing with great effort, which allowed them to improve.

After taking an early 14-0 lead, the Jays took advantage for Bulldog mistakes to pull within 14-10 in the second quarter, 20-17 in the third quarter and 27-24 in the fourth quarter.

“I was really proud of our kids,” Patton said. “From the second quarter on, anytime they scored, we came right back and answered. And that was a good defensive football team.”

The ability for a team to absorb a blow and retaliate is a must in a conference like the 7A West, and it’s also a critical aspect of any team expecting to do well in the playoffs.

For now, all eyes are on Muskogee, who stumbled out of the gate to an 0-2 start after falling to Owasso 36-7 last Friday. Against Owasso, ranked eighth in Oklahoma Class 6A, Muskogee managed just 54 yards on the ground, while quarterback Quintahj Cherry completed 17 of 25 passes for 100 yards.

FHS Players of the Week: Jefferson City (Mo.) Jays*

Outstanding Offensive Back – Brayden Cook
Outstanding Offensive Lineman – Sam Scalise
Outstanding Wide Receiver – Ramsey Jones
Offensive Most Valuable Player – C.J. O’Grady
Outstanding Defensive Lineman – Damani Carter
Outstanding Linebacker – Tommy Coker
Outstanding Defensive Back – Kennedy Wade and Jake Hornibrook
Defensive Most Valuable Player – Dre Greenlaw
Hammer Award – Jordan Dennis
Outstanding Special Teamer – Cal Conway
State Farm Player of the Week – Mitch Marshall
*Source Purpledogfootball.com