RULEVILLE — The Ruleville Central Tigers are still not where first-year head coach Damaris Mitchell sees them being at the end of the year, but following Friday’s 21-8 win over the Leflore County Tigers he feels they are well on their way.
“We performed better than we have than we have the past two weeks,” Mitchell said. “We had had inconsistent practices where we were not as focused as we should be, but this week we came out focused in practice, and it showed on the football field.”
With the win, Ruleville improved to 2-2. They will have an off week and will be back in action on Sept. 27 against J.Z. George as they open Region 3-3A play.
Much like the first couple of weeks, Mitchell said the team is still committing too many mental errors but each week that improves.
“We are getting better, and I hope they can see that. I think the players are starting to understand the method to the madness and buying all the way into what we want to do,” Mitchell explained.
On Friday, Ruleville’s offense totaled 407 yards (292 rushing and 115 passing). The offensive output was active according to Mitchell, and it started with the team’s ability to control the line of scrimmage.
“Tonight, we wanted to come out and limit the turnovers and penalties while making a conscious effort to establish the run game. We were efficient passing the football, and we did a solid job of blocking which gave us our overall success,” Mitchell explained.
Ruleville drew first blood in the battle of the Tigers off a scoring drive that culminated in an 18-yard touchdown pass from Joseph Perez to Markevion Graham. Jeremiah Surney added the point after for a 7-0 Ruleville lead.
Leflore County and Ruleville battled things out for the remainder of the quarter as both defenses forced punts.
Leflore flexed its muscles in the second quarter scoring a touchdown and adding the two-point conversion to take an 8-7 lead.
Ruleville made sure to answer Leflore’s score and late in the second Perez capped off a drive with a 15-yard touchdown run. The point after from Surney was blocked, but Ruleville was able to walk into the locker room at halftime with a 13-8 lead.
The second half started great for Ruleville, as Perez was able to connect with Fabian Carter on a 40-yard touchdown pass in the third quarter. Perez rushed in for the two-point conversion to give Ruleville a 21-8 lead.
The remainder of the game was all about Ruleville’s defense and running game.
“We came out at halftime focused on stopping them. Leflore has a talented team with good size, and so we challenged our defense to step up,” Mitchell said. “Coach (Kondwani) Coleman and Coach (Jaterrian) Wren did a great job of adjusting and keeping them off the board in the second half.”
The Tigers were able to seal the game in the fourth quarter taking possession of the ball with 9:53 left on the clock and controlling ball until 1:23.
“We just ran the ball and controlled the clock. I felt like we could have thrown the ball and probably scored, but why do that when we were winning, and the defense was playing so well. It’s a matter of respect for the other team,” said Mitchell.
Perez led the offense, completing 5-of-10 passes for 115 yards with two touchdowns. He also rushed for 77 yards on six carries with a score. Darius Townsend had 122 yards on 12 carries, and Carter added 60 yards on six carries.
Through the air, Graham caught two passes for 40 yards with a touchdown and Carter had two catches for 75 yards with a touchdown.
On defense, Surney led the way with 11 tackles and a forced fumble, while Jamarius Hale added seven tackles.