The Live Oak football team has one game under its belt this season, but coach Blane Westmoreland saw plenty the Eagles can build on for the remainder of the year in the team’s 35-34 win over Pearl River Central (Miss).
“It was just being able to fight through adversity,” Westmoreland said of his team, which hosts St. Michael at 7 p.m. Friday for the program’s Senior Night contest. “The kids kept fighting. It was a back-and-forth game, and the kids continued to fight.
“That’s what I want to see in our kids is that fight, that attitude,” Westmoreland continued.
The Eagles led 14-7 after the first quarter and trailed twice before Tyler Graves connected with CJ Davis on a 56-yard touchdown pass with a minute to play to give Live Oak the win.
“I felt like our kids started out much faster Friday night than they did in the past couple weeks, whereas, we’ve come out, in my opinion, flat,” Westmoreland said. “I felt like on Friday, we came out with a chip on our shoulder. We were ready to go. We’re looking forward to that carrying over on Friday.”
Graves went 7 for 11 for 142 yards, a touchdown and an interception, while Davis had five catches for 113 yards and a touchdown. TJ Magee rushed for 73 yards and two touchdowns on seven carries.
“We were able to move the football quite well,” Westmoreland said. “The kids did a good job of executing what we had in front of them and taking what the defense gave us. We were pretty pleased with our offensive effort on Friday. The kids did a really good job. The offensive line was able to make some holes for us and the backs did a good job. CJ had a great night with Graves getting him the ball and everything. Our pass protection was well, so I felt like our offense did a very good job.”
On the flip side, Westmoreland noted some dropped passes, an interception and a pair of fumbles on exchanges.
“There’s a lot of positives, but there’s always room for improvement,” Westmoreland said. “For us this week we’re looking at some ball security type things, and some exchange issues. We want to get those corrected, and that’s going to be a key focus going into this game Friday night.”
Westmoreland said the defense ‘played well’, but he’s looking for improved tackling from the group.
“I felt like we got a little better from the previous weeks, but we’ve got to get a lot better, and we’ve got to get a lot better in a hurry with the guys that we’ve got coming up,” Westmoreland said. “We’re going to have to be able to tackle. We’re going to have to be able to get off the field on third and fourth down and not give up that first down. We’ve got to be able to get off the field and put our offense back out there or our special teams out there.”
St. Michael is coming off a 34-0 win over Albany.
“They are a good football team,” Westmoreland said. “They are a zone offensive team. They’ll give us four down linemen on defense. They’re very sound in what they do. They’re very fundamental. They’re going to be where they need to be when they’re supposed to be there. They’re going to tackle well. Their coaches are going to do a very good job of prepping them and putting them in the right position and situations.”
Westmoreland said St. Michael did a good job with time of possession against Albany, which is also one of the staples of the Live Oak offense, even though Westmoreland said that wasn’t the case last week.
“The thing is we want to control the clock and run the clock and everything, but on Friday, there was a time where I think we had three touchdowns in 10 plays, which was great,” Westmoreland said. “I’m all for it, but that doesn’t give your defense much time to rest.”
“When we get the ball, we’ve got to score,” Westmoreland said. “That’s the key. It’s got to end in some type of kick. That’s where we are right now. That’s what we stress to our kids.”
The St. Michael offense is paced by quarterback Damon Blocker.
“He gets after it,” Westmoreland said. “He’ll go in there, and he’ll pull it. He’s OK with getting hit, and he just gets up and keeps on trucking.”
Westmoreland said he’s been impressed with what he’s seen from the St. Michael defense.
“They’re very quick,” he said. “Their defensive line is quick off the ball, and they’re coming. The linebackers flow very well and fill the gaps. They’re very good. They are physical, so our offensive line is going to have to do a very good job of calling out blitzes and being ready to fire off because those guys fire off and they’re coming, and they are coming in a hurry.”
“It’s going to be a good game for us,” Westmoreland said. “Our kids should be sky high with it being Senior Night. It’s our first home game of the year, so it’s always an exciting time when its those type of festivities before the game and that pageantry with the first home game of the year. I’m looking forward to the game.”