It resembled a war zone more than a football game. The injuries continued Friday night for a team that was already reeling from the injury bug. When the final gun sounded, there were approximately 11 Tigers out of the game that had resulted from previous weeks’ injuries combined with more that occurred during the game with Dardanelle. Charleston (0-2, 0-0) was defeated by the class 4A Dardanelle Sand Lizards (2-0, 0-0) by the lopsided score of 44-0. The game marked the second consecutive away game for the Tigers before they enter an open date next Friday.
The Tigers played hard all night, even though each series was a new person playing beside another as the injuries took their toll. In the end, the Tigers, playing with young players at multiple positions due to injuries, were no match for the big and athletic Sand Lizards.
It is both uncommon and unexpected for a team to suffer such a high injury rate this early in the season. In just the second week of the season, Charleston is fighting for their lives on every play due to the loss of players from the off-season and the first two weeks of the season.
Charleston has an open date next Friday and it could not come at a better time. The schedule gives the Tigers a chance to rest and heal and possibly regain some of their players that have missed or who are currently missing playing time. With one more non-conference game remaining with Ozark on September 20, the goal is to get some of their key players back over the next two weeks before the conference opener in Charleston when the Tigers host Greenland on September 27.
Of course, this is not what the Tigers are used to. It has not been a lot of fun for anyone associated with the program. Frustration and bewilderment continues to mount for everyone. If you played high school football during your younger years, you know very well how much time, work, and sacrifice goes into preparing and conditioning to play the sport. For the Tiger players, injury is not only painful but heartbreaking. This is especially true so early in the season. Seniors who have looked forward to this year are crushed when things just don’t seem to work out.
It’s too early in the season for me to give the “football builds character” speech. It’s true, it does build character, but, the conference season is just around the corner, and that’s when it is all for keeps. There is still a lot of football to be played, and the Tigers have a lot to play for. Tiger fans, players, and supporters need to keep the faith. Support the players and coaches. They are all going through a very difficult time. Nobody wants things to go the way they have over the first two weeks of the season.
It’s difficult to win football games. Winning is something we all tend to take for granted sometimes. But it is especially hard when a significant part of your team is lost and you play your opponents short-handed.
In my short time covering the Tigers, I have learned one thing. These are good kids. They work hard and they play hard. The coaches are good people and are working very hard to give the players any advantage they can find. Now is the time to support your program more than ever. As we all know, it is both easy and fun to support the program when times are good. But now, your Tigers need your support more than ever. Charleston fans love their Tigers, and I know they will help them through the tough times. I believe the Tigers will turn the corner and have success in conference play once they begin to get their players back. In fact, Friday night’s game at Dardanelle might have had a different outcome had the Tigers been playing at or near full strength.
After a much-needed open date next Friday, the Tigers have one more week on the road before they finally get to go home and play in front of the home crowd. But first, the team has to heal and prepare for another tough 4A opponent at Ozark on September 20.