By BEN JOHNSON
Tahlequah has enjoyed the comforts of home for the first two games of the 2013 season. Fort Gibson and Rogers (Ark.) came calling and departed with victories.
Now Tahlequah will begin life on the road with tonight’s game at Sallisaw.
But how will the Tigers react when they travel south?
“That’s the big question,” Tahlequah head coach Brad Gilbert. “It’ll also be Sallisaw’s first game, so there will be a big crowd. Hopefully we handle our business like we should.”
First up on Tahlequah’s agenda: alter its offensive approach after mustering only six points in a 41-6 setback against Rogers last week. The Tigers collected only 163 yards of total offense, leading to Gilbert taking blame for his team’s offensive shortcomings immediately following the game.
“We were able to correct some things, and hopefully we can do some things like we did in Week 1,” said Gilbert, whose team managed to record 422 yards of total offense in a season-opening loss to Fort Gibson.
“We have to run the ball better. As a coaching staff, we have to put our guys in better opportunities to run the football.”
Tahlequah did piece together 146 rushing yards against Fort Gibson, before being limited to 116 against Rogers. Gilbert said the goal is to get his running back tandem, Colton Wright and Brandon Conrad, more involved.
“Any good football team is able to do that,” Gilbert said of running the ball. “You’re able to wear down your opponent’s defense if you do that. Colton and Brandon, they need to have more touches. We’re focusing on those two guys carrying the ball more.”
Sallisaw (1-1) will call Tahlequah’s ante of Wright and Conrad, and the Black Diamonds will raise with their own duo of Jadon Davenport and Cale Wilson in the backfield. In Sallisaw’s win over Claremore-Sequoyah last week, Wilson ran for 189 yards and two touchdowns.
“They run the ball really well,” Gilbert said. “They also have a young quarterback who plays well at times, and he throws the ball accurately.”
Sallisaw’s quarterback is sophomore Quint Scoufos.
As for Tahlequah’s approach to its final nondistrict game, it’s all about getting better for when the Tigers open District 5A-4 play at Grove on Sept. 27.
“We want some momentum going into district play,” Gilbert said before breaking down where District 5A-4 stands through two weeks.
“No team is really standing out. Claremore is 2-0 and they’re good. But no team has really taken control.”