Tibbitt sees positive signs as Tigers get back to work
By Scott Loftis
The Green Forest Tigers returned to practice on Friday, Aug. 7, for the first time in nearly two weeks, and first-year head coach Greg Tibbitt said he’s seeing some good things.
“We were glad to be back,” he said. “It’s kind of a little setback for us, but you’ve got to deal with adversity. That can kind of be good at times.”
Tibbitt, who is moving the Tigers to a Spread offense, said Green Forest has some talented receivers. Green Forest also has an experienced quarterback in senior Reiley Gordon, a three-year starter who is back at his normal position after a finger injury forced him to move to slotback late last season.
“There’s some exciting young receivers we’ve got coming through,” Tibbitt said. “Reiley Gordon has stepped right up at quarterback where he left off. The offensive line is moving along pretty good. There’s some exciting things there.”
With fewer than 10 seniors on the Tigers’ preseason roster, Tibbitt said there may be some growing pains.
“We’re going to be a young team,” he said. “We don’t have a lot of seniors right now, but those seniors are trying to lead and learning how to do things a little different. I think we’re going to be a typical young team. We’ll be exciting at times and pull your hair out at times. I think that’s kind of the expectation.”
Green Forest will be counting heavily on a pair of juniors to split the load in the backfield. The Tigers will play mostly from a one-back set, with Barrett Phillips and Bryan Soto providing depth.
Soto made an instant impact for Green Forest as a sophomore, rushing for 135 yards and four touchdowns while also making nine tackles, intercepting a pass and kicking two extra points and a field goal in a season-opening victory over Yellville-Summit. Soto’s season was cut short by a knee injury that forced him to miss the final five games of 2019, but Tibbitt said he’s back at full speed.
“Bryan has looked good on both sides of the ball,” Tibbitt said.
Phillips had his best offensive game of the season against Berryville, running for 110 yards and two touchdowns on six carries in his final game as a sophomore.
“He looks really good right now,” Tibbitt said. “I think our one-back offense suits him really well. We’re going to be a zone-scheme type of team, which is a little different footwork. They’ve been really working with that. It’s a lot different than downhill running, but he has looked really good. I think he could definitely be able to tote the rock for us.”
The Tigers’ abundance of skill players might be the team’s biggest strength.
“I almost hate to jinx us, but we’ve got a lot of depth skill-wise,” Tibbitt said.
Green Forest will play a scrimmage Thursday night at Huntsville. The junior high teams will play at 5:30 p.m., with the high school scrimmage to follow.
The Tigers will open the regular season Aug. 28, hosting West Fork.
Green Forest Tigers 2020 Schedule
Aug. 28 — West Fork
Sept. 4 — Pottsville
Sept. 11 – at Cedarville
Sept. 25— at Prairie Grove
Oct. 2 — Shiloh Christian
Oct. 9 — at Gentry
Oct. 16 — Elkins
Oct. 23 — at Gravette
Oct. 30 — Huntsville
Nov. 6 — at Berryville