TWO RIVERS GATORS: Gators hope bad luck is over
August 26, 2012
Two Rivers was in a good position after three weeks last season, having doubled its win total from 2010 and standing 2-1, but then a run of bad luck struck.
The Gators hope history doesn’t repeat itself in 2012.
“We started strong,” coach Josh Harrison said of his team’s final run through the 5-2A Conference. “But we lost starting quarterback Tyler Green to a broken arm at Cutter Morning Star (in a 7-6 win), and we lost close key conference games at Mountain Pine (18-16) and Poyen (20-16) to miss the playoffs.”
After a 34-14 opening loss at Dover and back-to-back wins over Cutter Morning Star and Hector (24-0), the Gators lost their final seven games, including Conway Christian, 21-6; Bigelow, 34-6; Quitman, 41-12; Hackett, 52-18; and Magnet Cove, 42-7.
Two Rivers finished 2-8 overall, 1-7 in conference play. But six starters return on each side of the football as the Gators move up to Class 3A. They’ll bring their spread multiple offense and 5-2 defense to the 5-3A Conference, where they hope to contend for a playoff berth in their first season in the higher classification.
Green (6-2, 180) returns for his junior season at quarterback after the break in his nonthrowing arm. Harrison calls him the team leader. Green will be helped by several juniors who got plenty of experience as sophomores last year.
Green will also man a safety position. At press time, the Gators’ other projected starters included junior Gary Morrison (6-2, 185) at defensive back/wide receiver, senior Jon Ellis (5-8, 160) at DB/WR, senior Drew Owens (6-3, 190) at defensive end/tight end and junior Matt Burnett (5-10, 195) at linebacker/running back. Senior Elijah Jones (6-2, 260) will be the anchor on both lines. Jones is also a team captain.
Harrison said team strengths would include quarterback play and skill players who have decent speed and experience. Weaknesses, at least to start the season, will include strength and line play.
With realignment, Two Rivers is now in the difficult 5-3A, which also includes Glen Rose, Fountain Lake, Jessieville, Benton Harmony Grove, Bismarck, Centerpoint and Horatio. Several of those have enjoyed recent postseason success. Fountain Lake reached the Class 3A state semifinals last year, Jessieville and Glen Rose made the second round, and Bismarck fell in the first round. Harrison said he figured those three would make the playoffs again. The league’s top four teams will advance.
The coach said the Gators’ first key game would come in their opener Friday against Hector, a team they beat handily last year in their only shutout of the season.
“Then we’ll take it one game at a time,” he said.