“I just wanted them playing harder (last week), and that was the No. 1 thing I think we did,” he said. “We made a lot of plays on defense, and we want to count on our young offense to come along, too. We were very fortunate to win a game when we were basically doubled up in the amount of yardage.”
Much of the reason why Pope was able to pick up the victory was due to its team defensive effort. After allowing more than 30 points in each of their losses, the Greyhounds (1-2) held Etowah to fewer than 300 total yards and 17 points in its 20-17 overtime win.
Pope’s linebacker corps was one of the biggest reasons for the defense’s improved effort. Senior Brooks Climmons, who moved over from running back, finished the game with five tackles against Etowah, but he also played the role of leader. Outside linebacker Harrison Holmes ended up as the game’s leading tackler with 11.
“That’s kind of becoming the strength of our team in a lot of ways.” Kemper said. “Hopefully, they continue to do that and stay healthy. There’s some inexperience behind them in the secondary.”
Pope’s front seven will be tested tonight, as Northview has a Division I- caliber threat at running back in Terrence Shaw. The 5-foot-9, 180-pound dynamo has already earned attention from Vanderbilt and is known best for being able to make defenders miss.
“The running back is obviously a very talented kid and has some SEC offers,” Kemper said. “He’s a kid that definitely concerns you. He’s real fast. They’ve got some big kids up front. They play a pretty tough schedule, with Lambert and South Forsyth both being pretty good teams.”
On top of needing to corral Shaw, Kemper needs to make sure that the emotion, effort and intensity that were there against Etowah will continue to be there against an unfamiliar opponent away from home. The Greyhounds were motivated by their 0-2 start to play hard last week, along with homecoming festivities. Neither of those tools will be at Pope’s disposal to motivate the team going into tonight.
“I certainly hope that our kids don’t give any less than (the effort given against Etowah),” Kemper said. “Sometimes, it happens and it’s a little odd. I think we’ve only played (Northview) three or four times. There is some unfamiliarity there, but you sure hope our kids aren’t going to be happy with one (win) and will approach it that way.”
In order to turn his hopes into reality, Kemper said that he and the coaching staff have reinforced the effort they want to see in practice.
“We demand it in practice,” he said. “We are firm believers in playing as we practice. Some people turn up a little bit in a game. But we don’t believe there is such a thing as a gamer. If you don’t it in practice, then you’re not going to do it in the game”