Tough schedule hurts the Tigers
After finishing the season 2-8, it is clear the Green Forest Tigers didn't have the kind of season coach Bobby Bishop was hoping for, but Bishop believes there is reason for optimism moving forward.
"We feel like the teams we lost to were better than us, but the kids never quit," Bishop said. "We had 28 kids stay with us this year. That is up from last year. We are trying to build a program where the kids stay with it and I think we are doing that."
Bishop knew it would be difficult coming into the season, as the Tigers started the season facing three Class 4A schools. He also knew the conference schedule would be difficult.
"We felt like we won the two games we were supposed to," Bishop said. "We could have beat Greenland, but we didn't play well."
Bishop knows it will take a lot of hard work to get the Tigers back on the winning track. He just hopes his team is willing to put in that hard work in the offseason.
"When you aren't being successful, it's hard to stay with it," Bishop said. "We are trying to teach the kids that's not what it's all about, though."
While senior leaders Cory Bryant, Michael Blach and Kyle Allen all graduate, defensive lineman Creel Roberts, quarterback Matt Owens and running back Rhett Powell all return.
"Creel coming back is huge," Bishop said. "He will be our leader. Rhett had a good sophomore year along with Jose Hernandez. We must establish a better passing game, but I have confidence in Matt."
Tight end Dakota Grigg was hurt for much of the season, but Bishop hopes with Grigg healthy next season, he will be able to make a difference, along with Bristol Bishop. Bobby Bishop also believes there are some freshmen who will make a difference on next year's team.
"We will have a few sophomores next year that will make an impact," Bishop said. "We will have to make a lot of improvement over the winter."
Bishop said the things the Tigers will be working on in the offseason include ball skills and tackling.
"We don't run and catch the ball very well," Bishop said. "Our defensive backs have to improve. We could have made a lot of plays on the ball, but our kids don't understand when to attack the football. I do feel like our tackling was better than last year, but we still have a long way to go. It wasn't bad when the hole was small, but out in space, against spread offenses, they made us look silly."
Bryant finished with 573 rushing yards and five touchdowns and Powell had 489 yards and four touchdowns.
Roberts finished the season with 113 tackles, while Bryant had 81 and Bristol Bishop had 65. Bryant had three interceptions and Braden Smith had two. Genaro Ochoa had a sack.