Cougars ready for ‘evenly matched’ Bobcats

BIG RAPIDS — When Crossroads Charter Academy coach Jeff Thorne looked across the field Saturday he saw a team that was loaded.

Kingston had 14 seniors returning and had an offensive and defensive line that averaged 240 pounds. The result was almost predictable with the Cardinals opening the season with a 60-0 victory over the Cougars.

This week is an entirely different story.

CCA travels to Brethren, a team that is very similar in nature. That alone has Thorne and the Cougars optimistic about their chances tonight at Brethren High School.

The Bobcats fell to Marion, 44-0, to open the season.

“I think we are two evenly matched teams,” Thorne said.

Thorne has been stressing to his team not to dwell on the opening-week loss; that all of the goals Crossroads Charter Academy set at the beginning of the season are still intact.

The biggest of those goals is to win the West Michigan D League.

“It was only one game and it was non-conference,” Thorne said. “The only people who saw it are the people who love you.

“Our focus is on conference play,” he continued. “We think we can compete for the league championship. We ran into a buzz saw, but that game didn’t hurt us contend for a conference title.”

Brethren entered the season with a new coach, Bobby VanGorder, who happened to be a teammate of Thorne in their days at Wayne State University. Thorne knows VanGorder has energized the program and will have the team at its best.

But for the Cougars to walk away with a victory, Thorne has down two things — simplify and intensify. It is a motto of sorts the players have taken hold of during this week of practice.

“We are going to use a couple of offensive sets and get real good at it,” Thorne said. “With that simplification, we hope the kids will intensify their play. Where (last week) there was some apprehension of what to do in the heat of the moment, we don’t want that this week.”

The game also will be a battle between size and quickness, according to Thorne. Brethren will have the bigger team, but Thorne hopes to exploit his team’s quickness, especially on the defensive side of the ball.

“We have to be able to attack them,” he said.

But often is the case in a contest between two equal teams, turnovers could be the biggest determining factor in who wins.

“Turnovers in any game is important, but we really have to secure the ball and make them go the length of the field to score,” Thorne said.

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