By BEN JOHNSON
Tahlequah’s scrimmage last week against Muldrow and Miami provided Tiger head coach Brad Gilbert with two prevailing thoughts:
• His defense should be much improved in 2013.
• His offense needs to eliminate turnovers if it hopes to avoid another 1-9 campaign.
“I thought we executed and did a lot of things well,” Gilbert said shortly after his team’s first preseason scrimmage at Doc Wadley Stadium.
“We were physical, at times, and more so than I’ve seen. Defensively, we improved as the scrimmage went on, and they were flying to the football.
“Offensively, we moved the football, but the thing that stands out to me offensively was turnovers.”
The Tigers thwarted offensive drives by both Miami and Muldrow during full-field drives. But it was Tahlequah’s offense that handed the ball over three times during the course of the night.
“The ball was wet and it was a muggy night, but I told them that’s no excuse,” Gilbert said. “We have to take care of the football.”
That will be the Tigers’ main focal point going into tonight’s scrimmage at Wagoner. Tahlequah — joined also by Hilldale — will take the field in its final preseason tune-up at roughly 7:15 p.m.
“We’re looking for a lot of the same things (this week): energy and enthusiasm,” Gilbert said. “We want to be sharper offensively and defensively. Just want to make fewer mistakes as a whole.”
In the grand scheme of things, preseason scrimmages mean very little. There are no wins and losses handed out, so the Tigers want to avoid injuries and keep building toward their season opener against Fort Gibson on Sept. 6.
“We just want to come out of the scrimmage a confident team heading into Week 1,” Gilbert said.
Last week, Keys took on Colcord in the first week of preseason scrimmages. Cougar head coach Gary Willis was also high on his defense.
“The defense is definitely ahead of the offense,” Willis said. “But that’s usually the case with the first scrimmage. The offense came on late and ended the thing well.”
Keys will wrap its preseason Friday night at home against Stigler.
Hulbert will be on the road tonight at Savanna. It will be a three-team scrimmage with Antlers also in the fray.
Sequoyah will again host another intrasquad scrimmage tonight. The Indians are not allowed to play other schools during the preseason, based on the ruling handed down by the Oklahoma Secondary School Activities Association, which found the Indians in violation of summer camp in 2012.