Cougars look to rally in final three games
The High Point Christian football team has hit a rough patch. But it still has plenty of time to recover.
The Cougars haven’t been playing their best, at 2-4 and having lost three straight with Friday’s 43-38 loss to Metrolina Christian. But, with three games left, they still have an opportunity to finish strong and contend for the NCISAA Division II playoffs.
“I love a challenge,” coach Steve Lechner said. “I would hope everyone feels the same. I told the kids, and I think this is very important: Beyond the X’s and O’s and everything, why do you do this? It’s to teach these kids life lessons.
“You never want to put yourself in a hole, but this kind of stuff happens. So, you embrace the challenge — that’s the first step. And you really have to re-commit to the detailed plan to meet the challenge.”
HPCA did play well in many regards Friday, with Geoffrey Wall, Nate DeGraffinraedt and Malik Streater each scoring twice and playing well overall. But, up by nine into the fourth quarter, it couldn’t quite make the plays on either side to seal the game.
The Cougars punted twice on offense and couldn’t make stops on third and fourth down on two drives on defense — including on the Warriors’ game-winning drive, on which they faced fourth-and-3 and third-and-17 and converted both for big gains.
“If there was one thing we did poorly, it was the cerebral part of playing football,” said Lechner, who was willing to take the blame if any were laid. “It’s being misaligned on both sides of the ball; when you’re in, not knowing a play; and the penalties. That falls on the coaches and, ultimately, me.”
So, there’s room for improvement. The bye week next week certainly helps HPCA regroup, as it looks to refocus and prepare for home games against Christ School and Asheville School before finishing the regular season at Hickory Grove.
The task at hand is certainly not a cinch, as both Christ School and Hickory Grove had just one loss coming into Friday, but it’s one the Cougars will have to overcome to contend for their second straight berth in the playoffs.
“I think we’ve got to recommit to the learning process,” Lechner said. “Things that you may have assumed were digested, you may have to review them. And then in practice, I think we have to both incentivize (good discipline) and I’ll use the word punish the undisciplined things. …
“One of our goals was the win the conference, and that seems remote at this point. But, ultimately, the goal was the reach the postseason and get beyond where we did last year. That is still available, so that’s the goal. And it couldn’t be more clear the types of things we need to change.”