Kickoff time: Tibbitt’s Tigers ready to unveil passing attack

Tuesday, August 25, 2020
Green Forest senior quarterback Reiley Gordon hands off to junior running back Barrett Phillips during a recent practice. The Tigers will host West Fork on Friday.
Charles Chappell /

By Scott Loftis

Green Forest coach Greg Tibbitt got his first chance to evaluate the Tigers against outside competition last Thursday night in a scrimmage at Huntsville.

As might be expected, Tibbitt saw said he saw some good things, along with some areas for improvement.

“It was your typical first scrimmage,” said Tibbitt, who was hired as the Tigers’ head coach over the summer. “There were a lot of mistakes, but there was a lot of learning too. It gives us a good chance to improve on some things. It was just good to play against someone else.”

Tibbitt is installing a passing-heavy Spread offense at Green Forest — a big change for a team that has typically relied heavily on the running game. He said there were some good signs in the scrimmage.

Green Forest tight end Fredy Juarez Jr. makes a catch in front of a defender during practice.
Charles Chappell /

“They’re finding out it’s a lot different than throwing the football around in the back yard,” he said. “Joel Salgado, a sophomore receiver, made a couple of nice catches for us.”

While the passing game will get more emphasis at Green Forest, that doesn’t mean the Tigers can’t or won’t run the football. Junior running back Barrett Phillips has drawn praise from Tibbitt in preseason practice, and did so again after the scrimmage at Huntsville.

“I thought he did a really good job,” Tibbitt said.

After an abbreviated preseason that was disrupted even further when an assistant coach tested positive for COVID-19, forcing the Tigers to shut down practices for almost two weeks, Green Forest will open the 2020 season Friday, hosting West Fork at Tiger Stadium. Kickoff is scheduled for 7 p.m.

Green Forest has beaten West Fork by a single point each of the past two seasons, stopping West Fork on two-point conversion attempts in the fourth quarter to preserve both victories.

Reiley Gordon, who is entering his third season as Green Forest’s starting quarterback, has had a couple of big games against West Fork. As a sophomore in 2018, Gordon had a pair of short touchdown runs in Green Forest’s 31-30 home win. Last season, he ran for 109 yards and two touchdowns and threw a two-point conversion pass to then-sophomore tight end Trevor Stark in a 14-13 road victory.

West Fork has lost 22 consecutive games and has won just two games overall in the past four seasons since winning a conference championship in 2015.

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