With the cancellation and the rescheduling of games due to the weather or post-season play in football, both teams have been unable to play a game at home in front of Bulldogs fans.
Despite having not played a home opener, the boys and girls teams have shown perseverance — entering tonight’s game against the Fayette County Tigers with matching 3-1 records.
The Lady Bulldogs came into the season with a roster that included both inexperienced and veteran players.
Though the team suffered a key loss to sophomore Emily Posten — to an ACL injury — coach Wade Tittle said senior Brittany Harding has stepped in and played well in Posten’s absence. With returning leaders such as junior Lindsay Fluker and sophomore Caroline Dodd imparting experience to the team’s younger players, Tittle stated that his squad has responded with resolve during the long home absence — the type of adversity which he believes could ultimately benefit his team throughout the season.
“Our main concern right now is the lack of depth on the team,” Tittle said.
“To address the depth issue, it’s our goal to get playing time for as many of our girls as possible. The experience that a player receives in practice is valuable, but the experience they gain on the court against an opposing team is vital to their development and to the overall strength of our squad.”
Coach Robert Epps’ boys team has faced a similar course that the girl’s team has with no home games and a mixture of experienced and inexperienced players.
Epps, last year’s Class 3A Coach of the Year, guided his team to a 30-2 record, and advanced to the AHSAA Final Four for the first time in school history behind Daily Mountain Eagle Player of the Year and Second Team All-State player Tylor Owens, Gerald Smith, Conner Young, Blaine Eads, Kolton Nichols and a strong bench.
Though Young, Nichols and many components of last year’s team are gone, the return of Owens, Smith and Eads, as well several players who previously saw playing time, has established a foundation for the Bulldogs to build on this season.
“We have younger guys on the team who need veteran leadership — and when you have players like Tylor and Gerald, you have guys who get open for passes and put themselves in a position to take shots that win games,” Epps said.
“I’ve seen good progression across the board and I know our guys are ready to get out in front of our home crowd and play for our fans.”