Middleton believes Cougars starting to find their stride

Caden Middleton (9) and the Cougars recorded a big 35-20 win over Winnfield, their first victory of the season. (photo by Darrell James)

By Malcolm Butler

To say that Cedar Creek’s 35-20 win over Winnfield last Friday night at Cougar Stadium was big, may be an understatement.

In fact, according to coach Matt Middleton and two-way star Lane Thomas, big isn’t a big enough word.

“It was huge,” said Middleton who saw his team move to 1-2 on the year. “It’s monumental. I mean monumental. I think this ranks up there with Oak Grove (win) last year. (Winnfield) is a really good football team. We were outmanned at almost every position. Bigger. More physical. But we found a way to put it all together. Our kids played for four quarters.”

Thomas, who ran for 196 yards and two scores and added 14 tackles, echoed his coach’s sentiments.

“It was huge,” said Thomas. “It was huge. We really needed that to put us back into it. I think the whole game we stayed level. We didn’t get too high. We stayed level the whole time. I think we played just as hard as the end of the game as we did at the beginning of the game.”

For the second straight week, Creek jumped out to a big lead. The Cougars led Winnfield 21-0 after the first quarter. But unlike the previous week when they saw a 22-0 lead evaporate in a 30-29 loss to Vidalia, this time the Cougars hung on for the win.

“We had a chance to win the first two (games) and didn’t,” said Middleton. “The difference is we made the plays to be able to do that on Friday. We’ve had two pretty good weeks of scoring some points and the defense has played well. I hope that trend will continue.”

Middleton has said numerous times during the first month of the season that the biggest challenge for his team is conditioning, with so many Cougars playing both ways. The second-year Creek head coach believes his players are starting to work through the obstacle.

“I think when we are fresh, we have a chance to (be electric),” said Middleton. “I think what has been tough on us throughout the year so much is we have so many kids playing both ways. We get into the third and fourth quarters and we are absolutely gassed.

“I think we are starting to play through that which is giving us some more opportunities. I think we are starting to fight through that and get into playing shape.”

With the first win in the left column, the Cougars look to try to make it two in a row when they host Delhi Friday.

“I think the biggest thing for us is we got over the hump,” said Middleton. We made some plays we didn’t make in the first two games.”